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Tennis-Rafter nominated for two ATP Awards

Tennis-Rafter nominated for two ATP Awards

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Australia's Pat Rafter is up for two awards when the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) announce their annual honours for the 2000 season on Saturday in Indian Wells, California, ahead of Monday's Masters Tournament.

The 28-year-old, who has said he is considering retiring at the end of this season, has been nominated for Comeback Player of the Year and for the Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award.

Rafter, the 1997 and 1999 winner, is looking to scoop the sportsmanship award for the third time.

He faces stiff opposition in Spanish Davis Cup winner Alex Corretja, world number one Gustavo Kuerten of Brazil and Britain's Tim Henman.

Rafter's rivals for the comeback award are twice French Open champion Sergi Bruguera of Spain, Morocco's Younes El Aynaoui and France's Jerome Golmard, who, like the Australian, all returned from injuries.

Rafter missed the last three months of the 1999 season with a right shoulder injury, but returned in 2000 to finish runner-up to Pete Sampras at Wimbledon, lead Australia to the Davis Cup final and finish in the world's top 20 for the fourth consecutive year.

The Comeback Player of the Year award and the Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award are both voted for by the players, as are Most Improved Player of the Year and Newcomer of the Year.

The overall Player of the Year Award automatically goes to Kuerten as he finished 2000 ranked number one. He takes over from Andre Agassi.

U.S. Open champion Marat Safin is favourite for the most improved award ahead of other nominees Spaniard Juan Carlos Ferrero - last year's Newcomer of the Year, Australian Lleyton Hewitt and Frenchman Arnaud Clement.

Safin jumped from a year-end ranking of 25 in 1999 to finish the 2000 season ranked second in the world.

Belgian brothers Olivier and Christophe Rochus scrap it out with Israel's Harel Levy and Argentine Juan Ignacio Chela for the newcomer award.

Fans vote for two more categories, New Balls Player of the Year and Fan's Favourite.

Voting for these two awards takes place on the ATP's website, www.ATPtennis.com, and is open until Saturday.

Fans have 14 players to choose from for the New Balls award, Safin, Kuerten, Hewitt, Ferrero, Magnus Norman, Mark Philippoussis, Roger Federer, Mariano Zabaleta, Paradorn Srichaphan, Nicolas Kiefer, Nicolas Lapentti, Andreas Vinciguerra, Jan-Michael Gambill and Tommy Haas.


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