LONDON, Feb. 1 (Xinhua) -- Top tennis player Novak Djokovic of Serbia and Argentina's charismatic football star Lionel Messi set paces for the the Laureus World Sports Awards, dubbed the Oscar of sports, which are to be unveiled next Monday with a glitzy collection of stars waiting for the results.
Among the six nominees for World Sportsman of the Year, Djokovic is tipped as one of the most hopefuls, who won the Australian, Wimbledon and US Open Grand Slams and had a winning record of 70-6 last season.
His most powerful contender was Messi. The Barcelona forward has been nominated for three times. If Messi wins, he will be the first footballer to grasp the award.
In comparison, however, tennis players seemed to be favored by Laureus, as the former giant Roger Federer was crowned for four times. And don't forget sprint star Usain Bolt. The Jamaican runner who holds both world and Olympic records is likely to win his third Laureus award.
Chinese athletes had never won the classic awards of World Sportsman of the Year and World Sportswoman of the Year before, although Yao Ming and Liu Xiang had got the title of World Newcomers of the Year.
This year Li Na, the first Asian player ever to win a Grand Slam in singles, was nominated for Laureus World Breakthrough of the Year. Along with her was hurdles star Liu Xiang, China's first male Olympic gold medalist in track and field.
He seized silver medal in the world championships last year and was hence nominated as World Comeback of the Year. The seven awards were shortlisted last December, and shall be finally decided through vote of 47 members of the Laureus World Sports Academy.
Those judges were greatest sportsmen and sportswomen of all time, including Chinese legendary table tennis player Deng Yaping. The 2012 Laureus World Sports Awards ceremony will be staged in the heart of London at Central Hall, Westminster. Many great names of sports are expected to attend the ceremony.