In his fourth try, David Ferrer finally took home his first ATP Masters 1000 title this past weekend in Paris.
He becomes the first player outside of the Top 4 to win a Masters 1000 title since the end of 2010. Furthermore, he did it on a fast, indoor court, and not the red clay where Ferrer has traditionally thrived. This Spanish warrior just keeps getting better and better, having arguably the best year of his career at the ripe old age of 30. If David wins 4 matches this week at the year end championships in London, he would overtake Rafael Nadal and become the top ranked Spaniard.
However, overshadowing Ferrer’s impressive title run was the man he played in the finals, 21-year-old Jerzy Janowicz. His incredible run to the final had him win 7 matches, 2 in the qualifying and 5 in the main draw, and every win in the main draw was over a player ranked inside the Top 20 (Kohlschreiber, Cilic, Murray, Tipsarevic, Simon). His magical week in Paris vaulted him 39 spots to a career high ranking of #26.
The 6’8″ youngster from Poland was slaying giants with monstrous serves, big flat forehands and remarkably effective drop shots. The big fella’ has some major weapons in his arsenal and masterly creativity about how to use them. But most impressive was his fighting spirit, which has come from a tough road to the top of the game.
Jerzy started this year ranked outside of the Top 200, at #221 in the world. “This year I didn’t go to the Australian Open because I just didn’t have money to play [the] tournament,” Jerzy told members of the ATP Staff in an interview following one of his matches, demonstrating the reality of many touring pros outside of the top 100. It was evident that he’s been fighting for his life on the tour all year long, scrapping to win matches just so he could get to the next tournament. The pressure you feel when you know you have to win just to make enough money to travel and play the next week is terrifying, which explains his fearless play in the later rounds of the Paris Masters. His astonishing jump almost 200 spots in the world rankings must be attributed to his strong mental toughness and determination.
It’s great to see one of these success stories come to the forefront of the game, and I’m sure I can speak for everyone when we say that we hope to see more great things out of the young Pole in the months and years to come.
The biggest jump in the ATP top 50 rankings this week was 26-year-old Grega Zemlja. After making the finals at last week’s ATP event in Vienna, Austria, the surging Slovenian has vaulted himself 23 spots in the rankings to a career high ranking of #50. Grega had the best tournament of his career, gaining wins over Xavier Malisse, Tommy Haas and Janko Tipsarevic before losing in the finals to Juan Martin Del Potro.
However, even though this might be the first time you’ve heard of him, Zemlja’s recent success hasn’t come from out of the blue. His final’s appearance in Vienna has been a manifestation of the career year he’s been having in 2012. Going into the US Open, Grega won 10 of 11 matches and two ATP Challenger events (the equivalent of the “minor leagues” of the ATP). He followed that up by winning 5 matches at the US Open (three in the qualifying and two in the main draw), firmly placing him in the top 100 for the first time in his career. A little over a month later, he won 6 matches, two over players in the top 20, and has gotten himself into the top 50. Let’s keep an eye on the surging Slovenian in the weeks to come!
In other news…
–Novak Djokovic saved 5 match points in the Shanghai Masters 1000 final against rival Andy Murray and won his 5th title of the year. Don’t look now, but Novak has only lost two matches since the Olympics and has a firm lead over Roger Federer to end the year as the world’s top ranked player for the second year in a row.
–Tomas Berdych has continued his strong play, winning the title in Stockholm last week over fellow top-10er Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. That’s the second time in as many weeks that the lanky Czech has beaten Tsonga, putting him in a great position to qualify for the year end championship in London in which the top 8 ranked players compete.
-Andreas Seppi won his second title of the year, taking the Kremlin Cup over Brazilian Thomaz Bellucci. The 28-year-old Italian has now won a title on every surface (hard, clay, and grass), and reaches a career high ranking this week of #22.
-This week, the ATP has two stops in Valencia, Spain and Basel, Switzerland before heading to Paris for the final Masters 1000 event of the year. Most of the top 20 will be in action jostling for the final positions in the ATP World Tour Finals in London in two weeks. With world #4 Rafael Nadal out, there are four spots up for grabs (with Djokovic, Murray, Federer, and Ferrer already in). Look for the action to heat up as the season comes to an end!
Thanks for reading!
Tecnifibre sponsored player, Janko Tipsarevic was on the practice courts today at the 2012 BNP Paribas Open. Tipsarevic plays with the Tecnifibre TFight 325 customized with a leather grip under a Tournagrip. The unstrung specs for his racquet are:
Weight: 12.06 ounces (342g)
Swingweight: 304 RDC.