ITF Press Release, December 16, 2021
The International Tennis Federation (ITF) has announced that Australia’s Ashleigh Barty and Serbia’s Novak Djokovic have been named 2021 ITF World Champions with Barty winning for the second time and Djokovic becoming the only player in history to win the men’s singles award seven times, surpassing Pete Sampras, who was ITF World Champion six times.
David Haggerty, ITF President, said: “Congratulations to our 2021 ITF World Champions, many of whom have achieved greatness not only as individuals but also representing their countries this year. We thank them for the commitment, passion and resilience they have shown throughout this challenging year and wish them the best for 2022.”
Barty, who became the first Australian to be named ITF Women’s Singles World Champion in 2019, receives the award for the second time, having won her second Grand Slam title at Wimbledon, an Olympic bronze medal in mixed doubles at Tokyo 2020 and finished as year-end No.1.
Djokovic is the ITF Men’s Singles World Champion after a year in which he became the first man to win the titles at the opening three Grand Slam tournaments of the year since Rod Laver in 1969. He also reached the final at the US Open, guided Serbia to the Davis Cup semi-finals and ended the year ranked No. 1 for a record seventh time.
ITF Doubles World Champions
Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic are ITF Men’s Doubles World Champions after a season which saw them win nine titles together, including their first Grand Slam title as a team at Wimbledon and Croatia’s first-ever Olympic tennis gold medal at Tokyo 2020. Along with Petra Marcinko, they are the first Croatian players to be named as ITF World Champions.
Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova are crowned ITF Women’s Doubles World Champions for the second time, having also received the award in 2018. The pair finished runners-up at the Australian Open before capturing their third Grand Slam doubles title together at Roland Garros, an Olympic doubles gold medal for Czech Republic, and ending their season on a high with victory at the WTA Finals.
ITF Wheelchair World Champions
Shingo Kunieda extends his record for most ITF Men’s Wheelchair World Champion awards by winning for a ninth time. This season saw Kunieda claim his 25th Grand Slam singles title at the US Open as well as win Paralympic singles gold on home soil at Tokyo 2020.
Diede de Groot is named ITF Women’s Wheelchair World Champion for the third consecutive time, following a season in which she became the first woman to win wheelchair’s ‘Golden Slam’, after sweeping the singles titles at all four Grand Slam tournaments and the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Tennis Event.
Dylan Alcott becomes ITF Quad Wheelchair World Champion for the third straight time too, with the world No. 1 enjoying a career-best season prior to announcing that he plans to retire after the 2022 Australian Open. Like De Groot, he achieved a Golden Slam, winning all four Grand Slam singles titles as well as Paralympic singles gold at Tokyo 2020.
ITF Junior World Champions
Shang Juncheng is the first Chinese player to be named ITF World Champion, with the 16-year-old earning the accolade after finishing the season at No. 1 in the ITF boys’ rankings. Shang won three titles, including his first Grade A triumph at Criciuma, Brazil in March, and finished runner-up in the boys’ singles at the US Open.
Petra Marcinko joins Mektic and Pavic as one of the first Croatian players to be named ITF World Champion after the 16-year-old enjoyed a hugely impressive end to the season. Marcinko claimed Grade A titles at both Cape Town in October and Plantation (the Orange Bowl) this month, ending the year as girls’ world No. 1.
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 by Rakuten and Billie Jean King Cup by BNP Paribas.
2021 ITF World Champions – Quotes
“Being the ITF World Champion in 2021 is something I am very proud of. I feel fortunate to play the sport I love for a living, especially in a year that was challenging and unpredictable for so many. I want to thank my team and my family for everything they do and a huge thank you to tennis fans around the world for continuing to support us.”
“After such a rewarding year for me, my team, family and fans it is a great honour to be named the ITF World Champion for the seventh time. I am very grateful and proud for the results I’ve achieved and fortunate I had a chance to compete for the Serbian national team, too.”
“It has been an incredible year for us! Wimbledon, Olympics, 9 titles, year end number 1 and now first Croatian pair ever to be named ITF World Champions. It is something special and we are very happy about it.”
“I am very honored to be named 2021 ITF World Champion! We had an amazing season and I am glad that it was recognized officially. It is a great achievement and big motivation for us to continue!”
“I am very honoured to be named ITF World Champion again alongside my good friend and doubles partner, Katerina. To have our hard work and dedication recognised in this way is special and we both appreciate this recognition and hope to build more success on the back of our hard work in 2022 and beyond.”
“I am happy to be back to being the World Champion again in 2021. This year was very special to me, not only because I could win the Tokyo Paralympics at my home country but also because lots of people in Japan, and hopefully all over the world, had an opportunity to watch the wheelchair tennis at the Paralympics. I continue to improve my level of tennis so that wheelchair tennis can be more accessible to many people.”
Diede De Groot:
“It’s been a very special year for me, winning all of the Grand Slams and then on top of that also the two gold medals in Tokyo. I hadn’t expected so much luck for this year, but looking back at it, I worked really hard for it and I’m happy that I achieved so much.”
“It’s an absolute honour to be named World Champion for the last time. To be honest, I just felt extremely grateful that I could travel round the world and do my job this year, especially with everything that’s going on in the world and in Australia. It was a team effort and there were lots of ups and downs, but we managed to get it done. This year I’ve had the proudest moments probably in my whole career, which is pretty awesome. I’m really stoked that I could finish it off with the Golden Slam and I’m really looking forward to my last tournament coming up at the Australian Open.”
“I’m delighted to finish the year as the junior world No. 1 and be crowned ITF World Champion. It’s been a very fun and special year for me, not just with the results but also the experiences I’ve had at the junior Grand Slams. I was also very grateful to play the South America tournaments at the beginning of the year because it was so hard for all the players to play tournaments in 2020. It was great to get some matches and have the chance to compete. The most important title for me was at JA Criciuma in Brazil, where my physical condition wasn’t 100%, but during the tournament I learned how to win matches in a shorter amount of time. I’ve learned so much this year.”
“I didn’t know that I am the first Croatian junior player to be an ITF World Champion. Wow, that makes me even more proud. Of course, it brings more expectation and responsibility, but I think I will be able to handle it in future. I believe in hard work and that hard work always pays off. It has been a great and unforgettable year for me. My team and I don’t make specific plans about ranking achievements, but the plan for 2021 in my head was to be a Top 10 junior and get some experience from ITF professional tournaments. This is above my expectations, and I feel really happy and proud of what my team and I have done this year. I want to thank every member of my team and of course my family, without them this would be impossible. Last but not least, thank you to the ITF for giving me this prestigious title, I am really honoured. The main goal now is to work hard and improve my game. How far it will take me, we will see.”