ITF Press Release, December 9, 2017
The ITF announced on Friday that Spanish duo Rafael Nadal and Garbine Muguruza have been named the 2017 ITF World Champions. Nadal receives the honour for the third time, while it is the first year Muguruza has been recognised. This is the first time since Americans Pete Sampras and Lindsay Davenport in 1998 that the men’s and women’s ITF World Champions are from the same country.
In their first seasons together, Lukasz Kubot of Poland and Marcelo Melo of Brazil, and Chan YunJan of Chinese Taipei and the recently-retired Martina Hingis of Switzerland are named Doubles World Champions.
David Wagner of USA becomes the inaugural ITF Quad Wheelchair World Champion; while Gustavo Fernandez of Argentina is named Men’s Wheelchair World Champion for the first time; and Japan’s Yui Kamiji earns her second Women’s Wheelchair World Champion honour.
Axel Geller of Argentina and Whitney Osuigwe of USA are named ITF Junior World Champions. The ITF World Champions will receive their awards at the 2018 ITF World Champions Dinner on Tuesday 5 June, in Paris, during Roland Garros. Eight of the eleven players are being honoured for the first time, including a record three South American players.
Rafael Nadal becomes the oldest ITF Men’s World Champion at the age of 31 after a stunning comeback year in which he won a record tenth Roland Garros title and a third US Open crown. He was also a finalist at the Australian Open. Nadal claimed six titles in 2017 and sealed the year-end No. 1 ranking at the Paris Masters, becoming the oldest player to do so since the inception of the ATP rankings in 1973.
Nadal said: “I am very happy to receive this award from the ITF and be the 2017 ITF World Champion. It is four years since I last finished No. 1 on the ATP rankings and this has a special feeling. Congrats also to Garbine on her achievement which is great for our country. Many thanks to my team and my fans, and a special thank you to my uncle Toni for all these years.”
Garbine Muguruza is the second Spanish woman to be named ITF Women’s World Champion after Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario in 1994. She followed her breakthrough year in 2016 by capturing her first Wimbledon title, dropping just one set along the way. Muguruza took her form to Cincinnati, defeating her closest rival in 2017, Simona Halep, in the final, and went on to achieve the No. 1 ranking in September, finishing the year at No. 2.
Muguruza said: “Becoming ITF World Champion in such a competitive year is amazing for me and is even more special because Rafa has also been awarded on the men’s side. He is a great role model for all of us, so it is a great moment for tennis in Spain. I knew that putting in the hard work would pay off eventually and it made winning Wimbledon and achieving the No. 1 ranking so special. I’m motivated to take everything I’ve learned this year and apply it to my work next season.”
ITF President David Haggerty said: “Rafael Nadal and Garbine Muguruza are fully deserving of the title of ITF World Champion and are great ambassadors for their country and our sport. In a year that saw some outstanding performances by familiar names and new faces, both demonstrated their fighting qualities to come out on top. We also acknowledge the strength and experience of our doubles World Champions, Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo, and Chan Yun-Jan and Martina Hingis, with both pairs receiving this honour in their first season together.”
Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo ended the year as the No. 1 men’s doubles team in their first full season together, sealing the top spot at the ATP Finals. A memorable year for the pair was highlighted by six titles, with an undefeated grass-court season culminating in victory at Wimbledon following an epic 4 hour, 40 minute title match against Oliver Marach and Mate Pavic.
Kubot said: “We are very happy and thankful to our team members who put in a lot of work and energy on and off the court, and to our fans. When we teamed up our target was to finish 2017 at the ATP Finals, and from the very start of the year we tried to find a strategy to build up our confidence. All the small details came together during the year and we had great results. We are already looking forward to next season.”
Melo said: “I’m very happy and honoured to be named ITF World Champion. It’s something we dreamed about and now we made it happen. This year has been amazing for me and Lukasz, the first year we’re playing together. Finishing the year as the No. 1 team in the world means a lot to me.”
Chan Yun-Jan and Martina Hingis also enjoyed an outstanding first and, due to Hingis’s recent retirement, only season together to end 2017 as the No. 1-ranked team. The pair won all nine finals they contested, including winning the US Open without dropping a set. Chan is the first woman from Chinese Taipei to be named ITF World Champion, while Hingis adds to her doubles awards from 1999 and 2015, and singles honours from 1997, 1999 and 2000.
Hingis said: “It’s a great honour to be recognised again as ITF World Doubles Champion and to have the news top off what’s been an amazing final season for me. I look forward to coming back to Paris next year.”
Chan said: “It’s an honour to be named ITF World Doubles Champion and I am even happier that I get to share it with Martina. We had an amazing season together and I am very pleased we got to finish it on such a high note.”
The ITF’s selection of its senior World Champions is based on an objective system that considers all results during the year, but gives special weight to the Grand Slam tournaments, and two ITF international team competitions, Davis Cup and Fed Cup by BNP Paribas.
David Wagner is the first-ever ITF Quad Wheelchair World Champion after finishing as No. 1 for the eighth time in his career, 12 years after first ending the year in the top spot. The 43-year-old captured his sixth Grand Slam title at the US Open and clinched the year-end No. 1 ranking in the last match of the year with victory over Andy Lapthorne to win the NEC Masters. He won a total of 12 tournaments during the year.
Wagner said: “It is a real honour to be the first quad player to be recognised by the ITF at the World Champions Dinner. This award is very special to me, and is much bigger than just me. It is an award that I will always cherish and will always remember the players who came before me.”
Gustavo Fernandez is the first South American to be named ITF Wheelchair World Champion. The 23-year-old had an outstanding year in which he reached the final at three of the four Grand Slam tournaments, winning his second Grand Slam title at the Australian Open. Fernandez won a total of seven singles titles to remain at the top of the rankings in the second half of the year.
Fernandez said: “Without doubt this has been the best year of my career, something I have been waiting for, dreamed of, and worked hard for for a long time. It is very special to have reached No. 1 because of what it means and how difficult it was. I’m very proud of myself and my team, who have been so important in achieving what we’ve done. The recognition serves as a big motivation ahead of next year, in always trying to become a better player.”
Yui Kamiji is ITF Wheelchair World Champion for the second time having previously received the award in 2014. The 23-year-old was again a dominant force on the UNIQLO Wheelchair Tennis Tour, winning three of the four Grand Slam titles, at the Australian Open, Roland Garros and US Open. Kamiji won a total of 14 titles and was a finalist at the NEC Masters in her best year to date.
Kamiji said: “I’m very proud of my season, which started with my first Australian Open title. This year I changed many things and I had to make those changes to get better. I’m very pleased to have won three Grand Slam titles in the same year for the first time and would like to thank all of my team for their support.”
Axel Geller is the first Argentine boy for 22 years to be named ITF Junior World Champion after a rapid rise up the rankings. The 18-year-old enjoyed Grand Slam success at both Wimbledon, winning the doubles title and reaching the singles final, and at the US Open where he also finished runner-up. His breakthrough season ended with a third-placed finish at the ITF Junior Masters and the year-end No. 1 ranking.
Geller said: “I am extremely happy and proud of this achievement. Starting the year, I knew I had the capability to do well, but I never imagined I would finish the year as world No. 1. I have had the opportunity to play the most important tournaments and see what the professionals do every day to be there, and this has motivated me to work even harder to try and get there and achieve great things in the future.”
Whitney Osuigwe becomes ITF Junior World Champion after climbing from world No. 95 to finish the year at No. 1. The 15-year-old claimed her first major title at Roland Garros and helped USA to glory in Junior Fed Cup by BNP Paribas, winning all eight rubbers in singles and doubles. She has won a total of five singles and three doubles titles on the ITF Junior Circuit, and is still in action at this week’s Orange Bowl in Florida.
Osuigwe said: “It’s hard to put in words what exactly it means to have finished No. 1 this year and become Junior World Champion. This is very surprising and I could not be any happier. But I’d also like to think this is the result of the all hard work my team and I have gone through in the last year. I’m excited for what’s to come, and I hope we can keep up with the good results.”
ITF President David Haggerty said: “All our 2017 ITF World Champions have demonstrated true courage and skill in another memorable year for tennis and I would like to thank them for their contribution.”