Roger Federer could take home his fifth sportsman of the year title after being shortlisted for the Laureus Sports Awards, held in Abu Dhabi next month.
Federer in running for fifth Laureus Award
ABU DHABI // Roger Federer is in the running to take his fifth sportsman of the year title after making it onto the shortlist for the Laureus Sports Awards today. The awards, to be held on March 10, recognise achievements in 2009 - a year in which Federer surpassed Pete Sampras for the most tennis grand slam singles titles by winning his sixth Wimbledon crown, as well as taking his first French Open title. The ceremony in Abu Dhabi will also announce winners for the Sportsperson of the Year with a Disablity, and Action Sportsperson of the Year. Federer won the Laureus award for four straight years until Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt took it out last year. Bolt is on the shortlist again for his three golds at the athletics World Championships. Ethiopian athlete Kenesisa Bekele became the first man to win the 5,000 and 10,000 metres double at that World Championships and was also shortlisted. Spanish cyclist Alberto Contador, who won his second Tour de France in three years, was also among the contenders, along with Barcelona and Argentina footballer Lionel Messi, who won the Fifa World Player of the Year, plus Italy's Valentino Rossi, who claimed his seventh Moto GP title. Serena Williams was the only previous winner to be shortlisted for the women's award, after winning the Australian Open and Wimbledon and regaining the No 1 ranking. Two American compatriots were also shortlisted: skier Lindsey Vonn who won the World Cup for a second year and two golds at the World Championship, plus athlete Sanya Richards, who finally took out a 400m major title at the World Championships. Jamaican sprinter Shelly-Ann Fraser was nominated for adding World Championships 100m gold to her Olympic victory. Two stars of the swimming World Championships were shortlisted: Germany Britta Steffen for world record wins in the 50 and 100m freestyle, and Italy's Federica Pellegrini for breaking four minutes in the 400m freestyle. South Africa's rugby team was one of six outfits in the running for Team of the Year. The Springboks, who took out the Laureus Award in 2008 after winning the World Cup, beat the British Lions and won the southern hemisphere Tri-Nations crown. Barcelona will be the favourite for the award, after taking the unprecedented treble of the European Champions League, Spanish league and Spain's Copa del Rey. The New York Yankees, who won their 27th baseball World Series, were nominated, along with the Los Angeles Lakers for taking their 15th NBA title. The Brawn Formula One team, which won the drivers' and constructors' world championships after almost going out of business in the off-season, was shortlisted, along with Germany's women's football team for claiming a fifth straight European title. Cyclist Lance Armstrong - a former winner of the main men's award - was nominated in the Comeback of the Year category after finishing third in the Tour de France following a four-year retirement. Belgian tennis star Kim Clijsters will be a strong contender after winning the US Open following a two-year hiatus to have her first child. Golfer Tom Watson, who came within a putt of winning the British Open at age 59, will be a strong sentimental favourite. Others nominated were British heptathlete Jessica Ennis for winning the World Championships after missing the Olympics through injury; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Brett Favre, and Croatian high-jumper Blanka Vlasic. In the Breakthrough of the Year category, contenders include Jenson Button, who finally won the Formula One title after a long career, Juan Martin del Potro for claiming his first Grand Slam title at the US Open and Wolfsburg, which claimed its first German Bundesliga title. British pair Mark Cavendish, who won six stages of the Tour de France, and Tom Daley, who won diving gold at age 15, were also on the shortlist, as was Korea's Ji Yai Shen, who won recognition as rookie of the year on the US LPGA Tour. * AP