Novak Djokovic wins Laureus World Sportsman Of The Year Award

London: Novak Djokovic, who became the dominant player in men’s tennis in 2011, winning three Grand Slam tournaments - the Australian Open, Wimbledon and the US Open - and taking over the world No 1 ranking from Rafael Nadal, has been named 2012 Laureus World Sportsman of the Year.

He is the first player representing Serbia to win a Grand Slam singles title and the youngest player, at 24, to have reached the semi-finals of all four Grand Slams in the open era.

During 2011, he won seven other tournaments - five Masters Series 1000 titles, at Indian Wells, Madrid, Miami, Montreal and Rome, plus a 500 level event in Dubai and the 250 level Serbia Open. Djokovic finished the year
with a 70-6 winning record.

Although outside the qualifying year, he began 2012 with another great Grand Slam victory in the Australian Open, beating Rafael Nadal in a thrilling five-set final.

After receiving the Laureus Statuette from model and actress Bar Refaeli, Lennox Lewis, the former undisputed heavyweight champion of the world, and tennis legend Boris Becker, in the globally televised Awards Ceremony in London, Novak Djokovic said: "I want to thank the world sport media for nominating me for this Award, and definitely the members of the Academy who voted for me. I'm sure it was a difficult choice considering the greatness of all the other athletes who were nominated for this Award. It is really beyond words to explain how I feel."

A humble Djokovic insisted on sharing his Award with those closest to him. He said: "Last year was definitely the best year of my career and I feel very proud of my achievements. But this was not an individual effort, it was an effort by my whole team, the people who were there supporting me all the way through.

"In the last couple of years I had doubts if I could really make it, if I could become the world's best tennis player, if I could win major titles and compete with two great competitors in Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. But I've finally managed to do it with great dedication, great self-belief and great support from my team."

The Laureus World Sports Awards are the premier honours on the international sporting calendar.   The winners are chosen by the Laureus World Sports Academy, the ultimate sports jury, made up of 47 of the greatest sportsmen and sportswomen of all time.

Laureus Academy Member and tennis legend Boris Becker said: “I congratulate Novak on a wonderful year, it was one of the best seasons I can ever remember from an individual and he thoroughly deserves this Award. He was up against some heavyweight competition in the category with Lionel Messi and Sebastian Vettel, who were such big figures in their sports. Just a couple of years ago, men’s tennis was all about Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal and then suddenly we have a new kid on the block who seems to have taken over the sport. We should acknowledge what a fantastic achievement it has been from him. It means men’s tennis is going to be better than ever over the next few years.”

The Awards were announced in seven categories. The full list of winners is:
Laureus World Sportsman of the Year: Novak Djokovic

Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year:
Vivian Cheruiyot

Laureus World Team of the Year:
FC Barcelona

Laureus World Breakthrough of the Year:
Rory McIlroy

Laureus World Comeback of the Year:
Darren Clarke

Laureus World Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability:
Oscar Pistorius

Laureus World Action Sportsperson of the Year:
Kelly Slater

There were two additional Awards: The Laureus Lifetime Achievement Award was awarded to England football legend Bobby Charlton, while Raí Souza Vieira de Oliveira, the former Brazilian footballer, now social justice campaigner, won the Laureus Sport for Good Award.