Rafael Nadal, Emma Raducanu bag 2022 ESPY awards for best tennis athletes

Rafael Nadal and Emma Raducanu have won the 2022 ESPY award for Best Athlete Men’s Tennis and Best Athlete Women’s Tennis, respectively, on Thursday.

Nadal was one of four athletes – the others being Dylan Alcott, Carlos Alcaraz and Felix Auger-Aliassime – in the Best Athlete Men’s Tennis category. Meanwhile, reigning US Open champion Emma Raducanu beat Ashleigh Barty, Iga Swiatek and Leylah Fernandes to the Best Athlete Women’s Tennis award.

This is the third time Rafael Nadal has won the ESPY award, having previously won it in 2014 and 2011, while it’s the first for Raducanu.

However, Nadal trails his Big Three peers – Roger Federer (9) and Novak Djokovic (5) – for most ESPY awards by a male tennis player. Meanwhile, Raducanu joins the likes of Serena Williams (10) and Naomi Osaka as the illustrious winners of the award in recent years.

Rafael Nadal’s 2022 season so far

Rafael Nadal on Day Eleven: The Championships - Wimbledon 2022
Rafael Nadal on Day Eleven: The Championships – Wimbledon 2022

Rafael Nadal has had a standout season despite being plagued by injuries. He started the year by winning his first 20 matches, bagging titles in Melbourne and Acapulco, along with the Australian Open.

His success Down Under made him the second male player – after Djokovic – to win a double career Grand Slam. In the process, the Spaniard became the first male player in the Open Era to win 21 Major singles titles.

After a rib injury sustained in Indian Wells, Nadal made a belated start to his claycourt season – skipping Monte Carlo and Barcelona. He endured early exits in Madrid and Rome but dethroned defending champion Djokovic in the quarterfinals before beating Casper Ruud to win a record-extending 14th Roland Garros title.

The 36-year-old battled an abdominal injury against Taylor Fritz in the quarterfinals to reach his third straight Wimbledon semifinal.

However, Nadal had to withdraw from the last four clash against Kyrgios, as he was in no position to compete because of his abdominal tear.

Emma Raducanu’s 2022 season so far

Emma Raducanu on Day Three: The Championships - Wimbledon 2022
Emma Raducanu on Day Three: The Championships – Wimbledon 2022

Emma Raducanu scripted a fairy-tale triumph at the US Open last year – becoming the first qualifier (male or female) to win a Major in the Open Era. The teenager won ten matches (including qualifying) that fortnight – without dropping a set.

EMMA RADUCANUTHE FIRST QUALIFIER TO WIN MAJOR IN THE OPEN ERA (MALE OR FEMALE)Amazing. If you aren’t inspired, I do not know what to tell youSports 💕

However, the 19-year-old has largely struggled to build on her exploits this year, going 9-12. She has endured second-round exits at all three Majors and will hope to perform better at the scene of her maiden Grand Slam title.

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