The ITF World Champion award was established in 1978 and the winners were Bjorn Borg and Chris Evert, leading an amazing list of players who have earned this honor in the last four decades that includes John McEnroe, Jimmy Connors, Ivan Lendl, Boris Becker, Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Martina Navratilova, Steffi Graf, Monica Seles, Martina Hingis, Lindsey Davenport, Justine Henin-Hardenne and Serena Williams.
A year ago, Rafael Nadal and Garbine Muguruza grabbed the awards for Spain but things are looking much different in 2018, with Novak Djokovic and Simona Halep earning the well-deserved ITF World Champion honors. This is the sixth award of this kind for Novak who was also the winner in five straight years between 2011-15, joining Pete Sampras as the only six-time winner on this list.
On the other hand, Simona Halep has won the award for the first time despite the fact she was the year-end number 1 in 2017 as well, leaving all the rivals behind her after spending almost the entire season at the top of the WTA world.
Simona was the most consistent player of the season, playing 15 tournaments and reaching six finals, finishing runner-up at the Australian Open, Rome and Cincinnati but winning Shenzhen, Montreal and her first Major at Roland Garros, beating Sloane Stephens in three sets for the biggest crown of her career.
After playing on a very high level in Montreal and Cincinnati, Halep was defeated in the opening match at the US Open, Wuhan and Beijing, wrapping up a year with four straight losses after struggling with a back injury and missing the WTA Finals in order to recover and prepare for 2019.
After a two-year break, Novak Djokovic is the ITF World Champion once again, delivering an amazing second part of the season to overcome Rafael Nadal and join Sampras as the record-holder with six awards. Novak is also the oldest ITF World Champion, moving ahead of Rafael Nadal who was just a few weeks younger when he earned it 12 months ago.
The Serb couldn't find his form in the first four months, struggling with an elbow injury that forced him to skip the second part of 2017 and he had to undergo a small surgery at the end of January to solve the problems and come back injury-free.
He needed some time to gain the form and confidence, entering Rome Masters with a 6-6 score before winning 47 out of 53 matches by the end of the season, winning four titles to overcome Nadal and finish the season as the oldest year-end number 1 player.
After losing in the final of Queen's to Marin Cilic following a match point he had, Novak conquered his first Grand Slam title in two years at Wimbledon, as the lowest-ranked Major winner since Gaston Gaudio at Roland Garros 2004.
He was the player to beat in the rest of the season, achieving a Career Golden Masters in Cincinnati and claiming his 14th Grand Slam crown at the US Open to move closer and closer to Nadal. A title in Shanghai and the runner-up spot in Paris and the ATP Finals were more than enough for the Serb to wrap up the season at the top, becoming the first year-end number 1 player who was ranked outside the top-20 at some point of the season and completing one of the biggest comebacks in modern tennis.
“It's a great honor to be named as ITF World Champion for the first time,” said Halep. “I had an incredible year, winning my first Grand Slam at Roland Garros and finishing the year as world No.1.
To be recognized in this way is really special and provides extra motivation to keep working.”
“I am very honored to be named ITF World Champion again. I am particularly proud of this achievement after all that I’ve been through physically this year, but part of me always believed I could make it back to the top. It is very satisfying to join Pete Sampras by winning my sixth award,” said Djokovic.