Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Sports in 2010: Rafael Nadal - Athlete of the Year

Rafael Nadal

Ok, since I've posted (what I considered) the good, the bad and the ugly of 2010, I guess its time to pick who (I consider) to be the Athlete of the Year.

And yes, I know Drew Brees was the 2010 Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year and the 2010 AP Athlete of the Year and he won the 2010 ESPY Award for Best Male Athlete. Quite frankly, I have no problems with Brees winning every year-end athlete of the year award. I get it. If I were a juggernaut like the AP, Sports Illustrated and ESPN, I'd probably pick him too because the social implications, pretty much, compelled them to lean that way. In other words, it was the politically-correct choice, no doubt.

What Brees and the New Orleans Saints accomplished in 2010 was monumental considering how tough the last 5 years have been for the city of New Orleans. Winning the Super Bowl was a huge pick-me-up for the city and for the long-struggling Saints, no doubt about it.

But--

If you take away the environmental, political and social components out of the equation (which, to me, is unfair to those athletes not involved in the issue) and you base your pick on cold-hard stats and dominance, then there is no denying that tennis great Rafael Nadal was the 2010 Athlete of the Year.

When we look at what Rafa accomplished in 2010, I don't think its even debatable.

Here are some cold-hard facts:

1. 2010 French Open champion (5th overall-2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010)
2. 2010 Wimbledon champion (2nd overall-2008, 2010)
3. 2010 U.S. Open champion
4. He was 22-0 on clay, 9-1 on grass, 40-9 on hardcourt.
5. His overall record for the year was 71-10. If Nadal were a basketball team, he would be the equivalent of the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls who were 72-10 (.878).
6. His 7 overall titles were the most on the ATP tour this year.
7. He is the undisputed No. 1 ranked player in the world.
8. In 2010 he became only the 7th man ever to complete the Career Grand Slam.
9. He became the first man ever to win Grand Slams on clay, grass and hardcourt in the same calendar year.
10. He became the second man ever (Andre Agassi is the other) to complete a Career Golden Slam-- winning the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon, U.S. Open and an Olympic gold medal.

The guy was just flat-out dominant. And if total dominance doesn't win you Athlete of the Year honors, than I don't know what does?

Like I said, I'm not taking anything away from Drew Brees and what he and the Saints accomplished, but I think even Brees would agree that Rafa had a monstrous 2010 and nobody dominated their sport like he did.

Period!

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1 comment:

  1. I like your argument on this one. It's even more compelling because Rafa is dominating while Roger Federer is still around and most people (at least before this year) consider him to be the greatest tennis player of all time. It's always better when you have someone to measure your greatness against when you're playing an individual sport.

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