Novak Djokovic US Open 2021

Unvaccinated Novak Djokovic ‘clear favourite’ to win prestigious global sporting award, Slam legend predicts

Boris Becker believes Novak Djokovic is the “clear favourite” to win the Laureus Award for Sportsman of the Year despite his vaccination stance and controversial Australian Open deportation.

Earlier this month, 20-time Grand Slam champion Djokovic was nominated for the Laureus Sportsman of the Year award. Nominated alongside Djokovic for separate awards are Daniil Medvedev, Emma Raducanu and Ashleigh Barty.

World number one Djokovic is competing against names such as recently-retired American footballer Tom Brady, footballer Robert Lewandowski and Formula One driver Max Verstappen. As well as swimmer Caeleb Dressel and long-distance runner Eliud Kipchoge.

Last year, Brady won a seventh Super Bowl title and was named Super Bowl MVP for a fifth time, Verstappen won the F1 World Championship in controversial fashion, whilst Lewandowski broke the record for most Bundesliga goals in a single season with 41.

Lewandowski’s goalscoring prowess saw him score 69 goals in the calendar year which meant last season was the third consecutive year in which he was the highest goal scorer in European football.

However, Djokovic enjoyed one of his finest years ever as he won three of the four Grand Slams and came agonisingly close to completing a Calendar Slam when he lost in the US Open final to World number two Medvedev.

He also ended the year as the Year End number one for a record-breaking seventh time, beating Pete Sampras’ record of six.

Djokovic’s former coach and all-time great Boris Becker backs the Serbian number one’s chances of winning the award, despite competing against some prestigious opposition and feels his vaccination stance shouldn’t influence the judging.

Speaking to Spanish radio station Radiotelevisión Española, six-time Slam champion Becker said “Novak had an incredible 2021, winning three of the four Grand Slams, he came very close to completing the Grand Slam at the US Open but lost to Daniil Medvedev.

“For this reason, I think he starts out as one of the clear favourites to win the Laureus Award for the best athlete of the year, although we all remember how unfortunate his time in Australia was a few weeks ago.

“However, this should not be relevant, since what matters here is what you do on the track and not what happens off it. Whether or not to get vaccinated is a private choice, what we should reflect on is his performance on the tennis court, as 2021 was really impressive.”

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Tim Farthing, Tennishead Editorial Director & Owner, has been a huge tennis fan his whole life. He's a tennis journalist and entrepreneur as well as playing tennis to a national standard. He also helps manage his local club and volunteers for his local tennis organisation. He's a specialist in content about the administration of professional tennis and tennis coaching for all levels.