The world’s No. 1-ranked men’s tennis player, Novak Djokovic, and the world’s No. 1-ranked women’s golfer, Yani Tseng, are the United States Sports Academy’s 2011 Male and Female Athletes of the Year.
These two top-ranked standouts, who dominated their sports during the past season, were chosen by hundreds of thousands of sports fans worldwide in online balloting. It is the 27th consecutive year that the Academy has conducted the Athlete of the Year award in conjunction with USA Today and NBCSports.com.
Djokovic completed one of the best seasons in men’s tennis history by winning 10 titles, including the Australian Open, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open. The 24-year-old Serbian also captured a record-breaking five ATP World Tour Masters 1000 titles, and set a record for the most prize money won in a single season on the ATP World Tour, earning $10.6 million.
During 2011, Djokovic registered a remarkable 64-2 match record. He lost only one five-set match, falling to Roger Federer in the French Open semifinals. That loss ended his 41-match winning streak to begin the season, the best start since Ivan Lendl won 29 in a row to start 1986. Djokovic’s first-ever Wimbledon title vaulted him to the No. 1 ranking in the world in July. He followed it with his first U.S. Open victory over Rafael Nadal. Djokovic became only the sixth player in the open era to win three majors in a calendar year.
Tseng, a Taiwanese golfer, also had a history-making season. She claimed her fifth major championship this year at the age of 22, making her the youngest golfer, male or female, to do so. Tseng made history by winning the Women’s British Open. Tseng’s victory in the British Open was her second straight and at the time the victory was her fourth out of the last five women’s major tournaments.
This year, Tseng finished No. 1 in scoring average, driving distance, birdies and rounds under par en route to her second consecutive LPGA Player of the Year award. The world’s No. 1-ranked women’s golfer recorded seven LPGA titles, including two majors, plus won four other international events.
Sports fans from across the world decided who the most outstanding male and female athletes were in 2011 through online voting on the Academy’s website at www.ussa.edu. The ballot included 12 males and 12 females and voting lasted from Thursday, Dec. 1 to Monday, Dec. 19.
The Athlete of the Year ballot is the culmination of the Academy’s yearlong Athlete of the Month program, which recognizes the accomplishments of men and women in sports around the globe. Each month, the public is invited to participate in the worldwide Athlete of the Month nomination and ballot voting processes done online. The votes, along with the Academy’s selection committee, choose the male and female winners.
Finishing second in the male Athlete of the Year category was Detroit Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander. The runner up to Tseng in the Female Athlete of the Year voting was Japanese figure skater Miki Ando.
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