Nadal, who won his 17th Grand Slam title at the French Open, has had to miss the last few weeks of the season with an abdominal injury.
But he has reason to celebrate before the year is out after picking up the sportsmanship accolade. Rivals Djokovic and Federer both took honours too – the Serb winning the ATP World No.1 and Comeback Player awards, the Swiss winning the poll as the fans’ favourite.
The ATP announced today: “Fellow players voted Nadal as the winner of the Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award for a second time, recognising the Spaniard for his fair play, professionalism and integrity on and off the court.
“Nadal also received this honour in 2010. This season, the 32-year-old Spaniard spent 36 weeks atop the ATP Rankings and won five titles, including record 11th titles at Roland Garros, Monte-Carlo and Barcelona.
“Off the court, Nadal supported flood relief efforts in Mallorca.”
Nadal is now to undergo ankle surgery after last week revealing he is out of the ATP Finals in London because of injury.
The Spaniard pulled out of the Paris Masters with an abdominal injury and after failing to recover in time, has now withdrawn from next week’s event.
He was scheduled to have a procedure to remove a floating body from his ankle on Monday in a bid to be fit for the start of the new season.
In a post on his official Facebook page, Nadal said: “It has been a complicated year, very good at the tennis level when I was able to play, and at the same time very bad as far as injuries are concerned.
“I have done everything possible to reach the end of the season in good condition, both in Paris and London, doing things well and I really wanted to play.
“Unfortunately, I had the abdominal problem in Paris last week and, in addition, I have a free body in the ankle joint that has to be removed in the operating room today.
“It is true that we had detected it for a long time and from time to time it bothered me. However, since the problem in the abdominal muscle also prevents me from playing in London, we take advantage of the moment to remove the free body and avoid future problems.
“In this way I hope to be in full condition for the next season.”
Nadal’s withdrawal in Paris allowed Novak Djokovic to replace him at the top of the world rankings.
ATP World Tour Awards winners
ATP World Tour No.1: Novak Djokovic
Comeback Player of the Year: Novak Djokovic
ATP World Tour No.1 doubles team: Oliver Marach and Mate Pavic
Most improved player of the year: Stefano Tsitsipas
Newcomer of the year: Alex de Minaur
Stefan Edberg sportsmanship award: Rafael Nadal
Arthur Ashe humanitarian award: Tommy Robredo
ATP coach of the year: Marian Vajda
ATPWorldTour.com fans’ favourite: Roger Federer
ATPWorldTour.com fans’ favourite (doubles): Mike Bryan and Jack Sock
Ron Bookman media excellence award: Sue Barker
ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Tournament of the Year: BNP Paribas Open (Indian Wells)
ATP World Tour 500 Tournament of the Year: Fever-Tree Championships (Queen’s Club)
ATP World Tour 250 Tournament of the Year: Intrum Stockholm Open (Stockholm)