Established in 2000, the Laureus World Sports Award has honored the most prominent athletes in different categories, with some of the most established names fro the world of sport securing their names on the list. The Laureus World Sports Award for Sportsman of the Year went to Tiger Woods in the first two editions, followed by Michael Schumacher and Lance Armstrong before Roger Federer took charge from 2005, rattling off four straight awards to write history.
Usain Bolt also secured four awards, together with Novak Djokovic who was the winner in 2019 following a stellar 2018 season that saw his return to the ATP throne. Rafael Nadal earned the Laureus in 2011 after lifting three Major crowns in 2010, with another chance to hold the honor in February as he is on the list of nominees together with Lewis Hamilton, Eliud Kipchoge, Marc Marquez, Lionel Messi and Tiger Woods.
Sidelined from the court since the US Open 2018, Rafa had to postpone the start of the previous season a little bit, withdrawing from Brisbane and making a return at the Australian Open where he reached the final without losing a set, losing to Novak Djokovic to take the runner-up prize.
Nadal had to deal with injuries in Acapulco (wasted match points against Nick Kyrgios) and Indian Wells where he gave a withdrawal to Roger Federer with knee issues, heading to his favorite clay surface with no form or momentum after skipping Miami.
Fabio Fognini, Dominic Thiem and Stefanos Tsitsipas defeated Rafa in the semi-final in Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Madrid, forcing the clay-court king to find his best tennis in the remaining two events on the favorite surface.
With no room for errors, the Spaniard claimed titles in Rome and Roland Garros, earning 3000 points and spreading his reign in Paris to unmatched 12 years, keeping that level until the end of the season and entering the battle with Novak Djokovic for the best player of the season.
Roger Federer toppled Rafa in four sets in the semi-final at Wimbledon and Nadal was back at his best in Montreal and the US Open, adding 3000 points to his name and two significant titles to his already impressive tally, becoming the favorite for the year-end no.
1 position ahead of the Serb. Nadal had to skip Shanghai Masters, making a return in Paris where he needed a good run to stay in front of Novak. An injury forced the Spaniard to withdraw before the semi-final clash with Denis Shapovalov, missing another chance of winning Paris Masters and traveling to the ATP Finals with 640 points advantage over the Serb who conquered the crown in France and 1000 points.
In London, Rafa played one of the worst matches of the season against Alexander Zverev, looking vulnerable on the court before bouncing back against Daniil Medvedev and Stefanos Tsitsipas to grab 400 points and stay ahead of Novak who also failed to pass the round-robin stage, allowing Rafa to finish as the year-end no.
1 for the fifth time. In Madrid, Nadal was the leader of the pack at the Davis Cup Finals, scoring eight victories to lead Spain towards the title in front of the home crowd, dropping only two matches after Madrid Masters in May to conquer the ATP throne.
The 19-time Major champion wrapped up the year on a high note, beating Stefanos Tsitsipas in an epic final to grab the record-breaking fifth Mubadala World Tennis Championship title before proceeding with preparations for 2020.