Newcombe Medal: Peers steps up in 2016
John Peers' first Masters title in Paris preceded the biggest title of his career at the ATP World Tour Finals, putting the Victorian among the finalists for the 2016 Newcombe Medal.
John Peers hasn’t lost a match in a month.
The Australian doubles star is currently riding a 10-match winning streak with Finnish partner Henri Kontinen, a run that delivered the pair titles at the Paris Masters and the ATP World Tour Finals in London.
Having vaulted back inside the doubles top 10, as well as making his Davis Cup debut for Australia in March, Peers added another accolade to his growing list of 2016 achievements – nomination for the Newcombe Medal, which recognises Australia’s most outstanding elite tennis player and ambassador for the sport.
“Finding out that I have been nominated for the Newcombe is a massive honour,” he said.
“I feel like I’ve had a really solid year. Olympics and Davis Cup were big highlights and to win a few big events in the last month has been great. I’m looking forward to attending the Newks for the first time … I can’t wait to experience it.”
Before blitzing the field in the final month of the season, Peers had enjoyed a solid if not spectacular season.
From 2013 to 2015 he’d played with Jamie Murray, but when the pair announced in late 2015 they would be parting ways at the end of that year, he had to look elsewhere for a partner. He teamed with Kontinen, an impressive doubles specialist who’d already captured six career ATP titles.
And it proved the perfect partnership – they won their very first tournament together at the Brisbane International.
A lean period followed, with first-round losses in Dubai, Indian Wells, Miami and Barcelona. They hauled themselves out of that with a title in Munich, before a couple of months later hoisting the trophy at the ATP 500 event in Hamburg, their biggest title as a duo.
“When results may not have gone as planned, we never got distracted from what we were trying to do. We kept building and looking to improve,” Peers said.
“Over the year Henri and I have learned more and more about each other as we have played more matches together. No matter the results from week to week, we continued to work hard together to make the team better.
“It’s been a fun year and one that we have grown in our partnership together.”
That growth took on a whole new meaning when they reached the Shanghai Masters final and then stormed to the title in Paris.
Peers arrived at Bercy ranked 25th but shot up towards the top 10 after he and Kontinen secured their first ever ATP Masters 1000 crown. Earlier that week in Paris they clinched a berth in the eight-team field in London.
And once there, they swept the field, winning all three of their round-robin matches and then swatting aside Bob and Mike Bryan in the semifinals before beating Raven Klaasen and Rajeev Ram for the biggest title of their respective careers.
In that incredible late season run, they also beat top-ranked French team Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut, as well as Murray and Bruno Soares, the team that would eventually top the rankings in 2016.
Peers is now ranked No.9 in the world – very close to his career-high ranking of seventh – and as a two-time major finalist will enter 2017 with his sights set on Grand Slam glory.