Tennis player Félix Auger-Aliassime, who shone on some of the sport’s biggest stages in 2022, is the winner of the Lionel Conacher Award as The Canadian Press male athlete of the year.
Auger-Aliassime is the third tennis player in history to receive the honour — awarded annually since 1932 — after Milos Raonic (2013, 2014) and Denis Shapovalov (2017). Decathlete Damian Warner won the award last year.
The 22-year-old from Montreal started the year at No. 11 in the world rankings and closed the season at a career-high No. 6.
Auger-Aliassime won his first four career ATP Tour titles this year, including three in a row during a 16-match win streak this fall in Florence, Antwerp and Basel. He also helped Canada win the Davis Cup for the first time.
“I managed to accomplish all the goals I set for myself and more,” Auger-Aliassime said from Dubai. “I had already performed well halfway through the year, but to finish the year at the Turin Masters, to win the Davis Cup … I’m happy with my evolution as a person and as a player.”
Auger-Aliassime received 20 of 48 votes in balloting from sports editors and broadcasters across the country.
Soccer player Alphonso Davies, who starred with Bayern Munich and helped the Canadian team reach the World Cup, finished second with 10 votes. Hockey player Cale Makar, a star defenceman with the Stanley Cup champion Colorado Avalanche, was third with seven votes.
“It’s been a great year, so to receive this award — recognition from the Canadian public and media — is quite an honour,” Auger-Aliassime said. “It’s really nice.”
Auger-Aliassime lost all eight of his ATP Tour final appearances before finally breaking through with a title last February in Rotterdam. The six-foot-four 194-pound right-hander was also a runner-up at Marseille and reached the quarterfinals of the Australian Open for a third season in a row.
Tennis Canada chief performance officer Guillaume Marx said this month that Auger-Aliassime “is on his way, I think, to win a Grand Slam title within the next two years.”
In addition to last month’s Davis Cup title, Auger-Aliassime also helped his teams win the ATP Cup and Laver Cup this season.
“Félix is an incredible tennis player, but also a great person,” said Tennis Canada president Michael Downey. “We are proud of his achievements this year and know that his performances on and off the court will have inspired the next generation of tennis players in Canada.”
Auger-Aliassime also led the ATP circuit in hardcourt victories (45) and indoor victories (31) in 2022.
“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 Gaétan Chiasson, the editorial and new media director of Acadie Nouvelle.
Auger-Aliassime beat world No. 1 Carlos Alcaraz this season and also earned wins over Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal, all former top-ranked players.
“Felix’s rise in the tennis world over the past few months has never been seen by a Canadian before,” said Paul Ferguson, a sports copy editor with the Toronto Sun.
Hockey player Marie-Philip Poulin was named The Canadian Press female athlete of the year on Wednesday. The team of the year winner will be announced on Friday.
Alexandre Geoffrion-McInnis, The Canadian Press