Auger-Aliassime wins the Lionel-Conacher award, is the male athlete of the year

Alexandre Geoffrion-McInnis, The Canadian Press

MONTREAL — Félix Auger-Aliassime, who distinguished himself on the biggest stages of men’s tennis in 2022, is the winner of the Lionel-Conacher award as male athlete of the year from The Canadian Press.

Auger-Aliassime is thus the third tennis player in history to receive this prize, which has been awarded annually since 1932, after Milos Raonic (2013 and 2014) and Denis Shapovalov (2017). In addition, he succeeds decathlon specialist Damian Warner, winner of the trophy in 2021.

Auger-Aliassime, 22, moved from 11th in the world at the start of 2022 to sixth at the end of the year, a personal career high. To do so, he had to win his first four career titles, including three in a row during an unstoppable 16 win streak this fall — in Florence, Antwerp and Basel.

“It’s been a great year; I managed to accomplish all the goals I set for myself, and more. I had already performed well halfway through the year, but to finish the year at the Turin Masters, to win the Davis Cup… Everything, this year, I’m happy with my evolution as a person, and as a player. It’s been a great year, so to receive this award—recognition from the Canadian public and media—is quite an honour. It’s really nice,” said Auger-Aliassime, after training on the sidelines of the World Tennis League in Dubai.

His conquest of the title in Rotterdam also allowed him to put an end to a series of eight losses in as many championship games in his career on the ATP circuit.

The six-foot-four, 194-pound tennis player could have added more to his impressive 2022 crop, as he was also a runner-up at the Marseille tournament earlier this season and reached the quarter-finals of the Australian Open for a third season in a row.

He also dominated the ATP circuit in terms of hard court victories (45) and indoor victories (31) in 2022, disposing of world No. 1 Carlos Alcaraz and former world No. 1 Novak. Djokovic, Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal.

The Quebecer has also left his mark in team competitions.

In addition to helping his teams win the ATP Cup and Laver Cup, he helped Canada win the Davis Cup for the first time in its history last month. At the same time, the country became the 16th in history to win top honors in the most prestigious competition in the world of team tennis.

Progress so meteoric that Tennis Canada chief performance officer Guillaume Marx said during his organization’s traditional year-end review this month that he (Auger-Aliassime) « is on his way, I think , to win a Grand Slam title within the next two years.

“Félix absolutely deserves this prestigious title (the Lionel-Conacher prize). (…) He is an incredible tennis player, but also an extraordinary person. We are proud of his accomplishments this year and are confident that his performances on and off the court will inspire future generations of Canadian tennis players,” added Tennis Canada President and COO Michael Downey.

Auger-Aliassime thus received 20 of the 48 votes in the ballot conducted among the country’s sports directors, journalists and commentators. And for them, obtaining the Lionel-Conacher prize left no doubt.

“Never has a Canadian tennis player had a year like the one Auger-Aliassime just finished. It was dominant at the end of the year,” said the editorial and new media director of Acadie Nouvelle, Gaétan Chiasson.

« Felix’s rise in the world of professional tennis in recent months has never been matched by any other Canadian before, » said Toronto Sun sports chief Paul Ferguson.

Bayern Munich star soccer player Alphonso Davies, who also famously became Canada’s all-time top scorer at the World Cup earlier this month, finished second in the polls with 10 voice, followed by Colorado Avalanche star defenseman and member of the last Stanley Cup champion team, Cale Makar, with seven.

Auger-Aliassime’s choice allows Quebec to raid the individual honors awarded by The Canadian Press. On Wednesday, Team Canada captain, hockey player Marie-Philip Poulin, won the award for Canada’s Most Outstanding Female Athlete.

The team of the year will be announced on Friday.

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