Meet The 2020 Comeback Nominees: Anderson, Kuznetsov, Pospisil & Raonic
The Comeback Player of the Year award in the 2020 ATP Awards goes to the player who has overcome injury to re-establish himself as one of the top players on Tour. This year's nominees are Kevin Anderson, Andrey Kuznetsov, Vasek Pospisil and Milos Raonic. The winner, as selected by the players, will be announced later this month.
In 2020 (Difference)
|Kevin Anderson||No. 4||No. 147||No.81 (+66)|
|Andrey Kuznetsov||No. 39||Unranked||No. 509 (+509)|
|Vasek Pospisil||No. 25||No. 148||No. 61 (+87)|
|Milos Raonic||No. 3||No. 37||No. 14 (+23)|
The South African player started the 2019 season with a World No. 6 FedEx ATP Ranking, but plummeted to No. 147 after struggling elbow and knee injuries. Anderson was sidelined again in 2020 after undergoing knee surgery in February, and has made his way back to the ATP Top 100 after reaching semi-finals in Vienna and the third round at Roland Garros.
The 34-year-old finished the year ranked No. 81. He played eight tournaments since the ATP Tour’s resumption, with the goal of playing a complete schedule in 2021.
“It’s an ongoing project given where I’m at, my age and everything, but I feel like my motivation and what I’m trying to still do in this sport, there’s still a lot that I want to accomplish,” Anderson told press ahead of the Rolex Paris Masters. “I need my knee to give me that opportunity for the next several years, so that’s how we go along each week...
“I’ve set big goals for myself. It’s a process to get there, but my motivation is definitely as high as it’s ever been.”
The 29-year-old Russian’s last full competitive season was in 2017, before a lifelong hip injury forced him to walk away from the game. During his time away, the former World No. 39 did everything from dabbling in coaching - he worked with countryman Evgeny Donskoy in 2019 - to doing commentary for Eurosport, as well as getting married and welcoming a son with wife Darya. But he still had more tennis left, and Kuznetsov slowly worked his way back to fitness before embarking on his comeback in 2020 after the ATP Tour’s resumption.
He made a big statement at the US Open, reaching the second round in just his second tournament back, where he became the first unranked player to win a Grand Slam match since Nicolas Kiefer at 2007 Wimbledon. Rising as high as No. 509 in the FedEx ATP Rankings as a result, Kuznetsov is looking forward to settling back into the rhythm of the Tour.
“I was pretty sure I would come back. I wasn’t sure how long it would take. I thought it might take even longer than three years, that maybe it would take five years,” Kuznetsov told ATPTour.com ahead of the US Open. “I was not sure if after five years I would have motivation to come back because so much time would have passed. Somewhere inside I was hoping and I believed I would be able to come back and it was a question of time.”
Pospisil was sidelined during the first half of 2019 and ended the year as World No. 149 after undergoing back surgery to repair a herniated disk. But by the end of the season, the Canadian was already showing flashes of his vintage form, and he kept the momentum going in 2020 as he surged back into the Top 100.
Pospisil reached two ATP Tour finals in Sofia and Montpellier, and made a statement run to the fourth round of the US Open, defeating back-to-back Top 20 players - Roberto Bautista Agut (11) and countryman Milos Raonic (18) - along the way. It was the 30-year-old’s best Grand Slam result since his 2015 run to Wimbledon quarter-finals.
“I feel like I’m getting back in the right direction,” Pospisil told ATPTour.com in Montpellier. “I haven’t been able to go consecutive weeks and months like this for a very long time. I didn’t realise it, but I feel like I’m on the right track physically.”
“I am not putting pressure on myself over ranking, but I would ultimately like to get back to the Top 30 and a career-high ranking,” he added. “If I didn’t think I could do that, I don’t think I’d still be playing. I am trying not to put too much pressure on myself, but I’m pretty ambitious.”
Former Wimbledon finalist Raonic was sidelined for a large portion of the 2019 season due to injury, missing Roland Garros and the US Open in a career-long struggle to stay healthy. But he’s bounced back higher in 2020, starting the year with a run to the quarter-finals at the Australian Open.
The Canadian also made his mark at the ATP Masters 1000 level, reaching the final in Cincinnati and semi-finals in Paris. Raonic ended the year inside the Top 20 for the seventh time in his career as a result.
“I wish things were different but I have to work my way back up,” Raonic said after Melbourne. “I feel like my tennis is there but I have to stay healthy and give myself a chance to compete week in and week out… I think I can find a level above what I had before.”