Wheelchair sensation Dylan Alcott is in line for an historic accolade as Nick Kyrgios’s latest brush with officialdom wipes him out of Newcombe Medal contention for a second straight year.
Australia’s top-ranked tennis player, Kyrgios was ruled ineligible for “The Newk” last year after ending 2015 on a suspended ban.
With Kyrgios now serving a full-blown eight-week suspension for tanking at last week’s Shanghai Masters, Tennis Australia will have no choice but to overlook the world No.14 once again.
Having claimed his first three career titles in Marseilles, Washington and Tokyo to soar to his highest-ever ranking, Kyrgios would have been a hot favourite to land his second Newcombe Medal to go with his 2014 award.
Instead, Alcott is right in the mix to become the first wheelchair athlete to be recognised as Australia’s most outstanding tennis player of the year.
Eight years after being the youngest member of Australia’s triumphant wheelchair basketball team at the Beijing Olympics, Alcott secured gold in both the quad singles and doubles at the Rio Games in August.
The 25-year-old is set to be shortlisted for the top gong in 2016 along with three-time Newcombe Medallist Samantha Stosur, Davis Cup star Bernard Tomic and fast-rising Daria Gavrilova.
Stosur’s charge to the French Open semi-finals was the best grand slam run of the year by an Australian and vaulted the veteran back into the world’s top 20.
In his most consistent season yet, 23-year-old Tomic reached five quarter-finals, two semis, a final and the fourth round at both the Australian Open and Wimbledon after climbing to a career-high No.17 in January.
And in a memorable summer, Gavrilova teamed with Kyrgios to become Australia’s first Hopman Cup winners in 17 years, then went within a set of making the Australian Open quarter-finals before ending 2016 in style with victory over world No.1 Angelique Kerber.
This year’s Newcombe Medal awards will be held in Melbourne on November 28.