Francisco Cerundolo: Rising Up Through The Ranks, Humility And The Sinner Role Model - UBITENNIS
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Francisco Cerundolo: Rising Up Through The Ranks, Humility And The Sinner Role Model

Jannik Sinner’s last opponent comes from an Argentine tennis-playing family whose career path began with modest beginnings and a model to be inspired by.



by Matteo Beltrami, translated by Giulia Bosatra


Francisco Cerundolo and his brother Juan Manuel’s fairy tale begins far away in Buenos Aires and is one of those stories of ITF Futures and humbleness, much humbleness.

Their father Alejandro (known as Toto) who trains them both, had a tennis-playing history of his own in the 80s. After hanging up his boots, he trained Josè “Chucho” Acasuso who battled his way to the final of the 2001 Buenos Aires Open at 18 years of age; since then no other Argentine of such an young age has reached a final until Alejandro’s son Juan Manuel, at 19, secured a victory at the ATP Cordoba 20 years later.

As for Francisco, who was born in 1998 and is three years older than his brother, his moment of glory arrived in 2021 at his home town tournament, the ATP 250 Buenos Aires. He quite unexpectedly made it to the final after starting off in the qualifying rounds. Having systematically left Benoit Paire, Pablo Andujar and Albert Ramos by the wayside, he succumbed in the final to his fellow Argentine Diego Schwartzman.

To think that the story of these two brothers might have come to an end during the pandemic in 2020. They were confined in Buenos Aires and cooped up in their house with the rest of their family. Francisco didn’t give up, but went on training, struggling with wrist problems and a troublesome tendinitis in his leg. Then in August he ventured on a tour in Europe with Tomas Etcheverry who also spent a month in Italy. Reflecting on this time, Francisco remembers: “We didn’t know what else to do. We traveled to Italy and were quarantined in Arezzo before starting to compete. The journey was hard, we were nervous and plagued with doubt. A few months into the tour, however, we were more relaxed.”

According to their father it was Sinner, Francisco’s recent opponent in Miami, that triggered it all off for them. Sinner was a real source of inspiration for his boys: “He wasn’t that great as a junior; he’s one of the weirdest cases of recent years – Cerundolo Senior’s verdict – Time and again we’ve said: if he can do it, then so can we.” Now they’ve just come up against each other in the quarter finals of the American tour. 

En route to his match against Sinner, Cerundolo collected illustrious victims like Reilly Opelka, Gael Monfils and Frances Tiafoe. His game is less structured than his brother’s, who is happier on red clay; Francisco, as shown in his match against Tiafoe, is endowed with a good service and a solid baseline game, particularly with his forehand.

The Argentine avenged his younger brother, who in the third round had been knocked out by  Tiafoe; this time the North American lost his early lead and was defeated 6-7(2) 7-6 (3) 6-2. He also suffered from a back problem during the final stages of the match. 

Before the match, Jannik said of him: “I don’t know Cerundolo (Francisco) quite as well, we trained together at Indian Wells and here in Miami. And then, we are also quite good friends. We’ll see, it’ll be a tough match, a difficult one, and I’ll prepare as well as I can for this one too.”

On court things turned out very differently from expectations. Francisco was leading 4-1 in the first set with Sinner, when the Italian was forced to withdraw after just 23 minutes due to foot blisters.

“I didn’t know anything,” Francisco commented during his on-court interview. “When I was serving at 3-1, 30/0, I saw him [Sinner] bending down. It was really strange. I didn’t see anything wrong and I hope he is ok, he is a great player. My run here means a lot. It is everything I have dreamed of.”

Francisco, who will now to face Norway’s Casper Ruud in the semi-finals, has definitely nailed a series of excellent performances, reaching his first semi-finals of a 1000 ATP Masters. 

However it goes today, it will have been a great week for the twenty-three-year-old Argentine who’s been dreaming of making it to the top 50 in the world one day: for now, he’s already gained 52 places, hoisting himself up to number 51 in the ATP ranking. A run-up that started from the bottom.

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Team World One Win Away From Victory in Laver Cup

Team World take a huge 10-2 lead over Team Europe heading into the final day



Image via Laver Cup twitter

After losing the first four editions of the Laver Cup, Team World look set to win the event for a second time as the event reaches its conclusion tomorrow.


Team World Captain John McEnroe was thrilled with the day’s results but warned against complacency: “We’re just going to keep doing what we’re doing. The job’s not done but we’re pretty close.”

American duo Taylor Fritz and Frances Tiafoe both earned straight sets wins over Andrey Rublev and Hubert Hurkacz, while Felix Auger-Aliassime and Ben Shelton beat Hurkacz and Gael Monfils.

“I want to play well for the guys,” said Tiafoe after his singles victory. “I played really well tonight. Just being in a team environment is so foreign to us as tennis players, it’s such an individual sport.”

After winning his third singles match in three appearances at the Laver Cup, Fritz was also motivated to do well:

“Yesterday, all the guys played really well. I felt that and wanted to come out on court and show what I can do. That definitely motivated me. Any type of team environment, I feel like it always elevates my game. I feel like my record in team events is really strong because I have a team cheering for me. I get pumped up. I’m excited to play for them. It just adds more pressure and fire to it. I think I play better in those situations.”

The doubles was a typically dynamic and feisty affair, and after the match Shelton was full of praise for his partner:

“It’s amazing, when you play with a guy who serves and returns like Felix, is as athletic as him, and goes back for the overhead as strong as him, it’s a fun time,” said Shelton. “We call him ‘Laver Cup Felix’ because he turns into something special this week, just glad I got to share the court with him at least once.”

Auger-Aliassime returned the compliments: “The best comes out of me when I’m playing not only for myself but for team-mates. Ben carried me through the end of that match, it was tough for me to get it done.”

Casper Ruud, meanwhile, beat Tommy Paul for Europe’s only points so far.

Matches on the final day are worth three points each – meaning that Team Europe would have to win all four remaining matches to prevent Team World from winning the trophy.

T. Fritz def A. Rublev 6-2, 7-6
F. Tiafoe def H. Hurkacz 7-5, 6-3
F. Auger-Aliassime & B. Shelton def H.Hurkacz & G. Monfils 7-5, 6-4
C. Ruud def T. Paul 7-6, 6-2

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ATP RANKINGS UPDATE: Novak Djokovic, No.1 once more



After the US Open the Serbian champion reclaims top spot. Alexander Zverev is back in the Top 10


By Roberto Ferri

Don’t ever underestimate the heart of a champion”

Rudy Tomjanovich coined this maxim just after his Houston Rockets won the NBA championship in 1995. He was paying homage to Akeem Holajuwon. It perfectly suits the heart of Daniil Medvedev, who proved 99% of tennis fans in the world to be wrong, convinced as they were that he would lose the semifinal to former No 1 Carlos Alcaraz.

But his dream to win a second US Open, after his triumph in 2021, was shattered by another champion, whose heart and class is even greater: that’s Novak Djokovic, who affixes his seal on his return to No.1, equalling Margaret Court Smith’s record of 24 majors.

Djokovic dethroning Alcaraz is not the only change in the top 20: Sascha Zverev is back in the top 10 after almost one year and Ben Shelton, great protagonist of the Us Open, debuts in the top 20 best players in the world.

TOP 20

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A few comments:

Stefanos Tsitsipas, Andrei Rublev and Alexander Zverev gain 2 positions.

Ben Shelton devours 28 positions.

Sinner, Tiafoe, Norrie and Dimitrov lose one.

Casper Ruud and Karen Khachanov, runner up and semi-finalist respectively  at the 2022 US  Open, drop 4 positions.

One step forward for Fritz, de Minaur, Paul, Auger-Aliassime and Hurkacz.


From 12 to 19 November the 8 best players of the ranking based on the points earned in the ongoing solar season will be playing the Nitto ATP Finals in Turin.

Will Novak Djokovic succeed in winning a second straight title? He appears to be heading in the right direction.


Thanks to his triumph at the US Open the Serbian overtakes Alcaraz also in the Race to Turin.

Jannik Sinner holds fourth spot while Andrei Rublev overtakes Stefanos Tsitsipas and is now fifth.

The eighth position is occupied by Alexander Zverev.

Last year runner up, Casper Ruud is currently 10th. This means he would feature in Turin as a reserve.


The Next Gen Finals, dedicated to the best under 21s, (8 effectives and 2 reserves) of the season will take place this year in Gedda, Saudi Arabia.

The 2022 winner, Brandon Nakashima, will not be defending his title, since he was born in 2001.

PositionPlayerCountryPtsYOB ATP rank
6Van AsscheFrance597200469
12Llamas RuizSpain3702002133

Taking for granted that Alcaraz and, most likely Rune, will be playing the ATP Finals, we have included in the chart the 12 current top under 21s.


Besides Ben Shelton, other 11 players have achieved their career highest this week.

We tribute a double applause to the four players who are making their debut in the top 100.

The 25-year-old Croatian Borna Gojo, 22-year-old Australian Rinky Hijkata and the Swiss next gen Dominic Stricker all reap the reward for their brilliant runs at the US Open. Seyboth Wild, the Brazilian who stunned Medvedev in the first round of Roland Garros leaps to No.76 after winning the Challenger in Como last week.

Seyboth Wild76Brazil30

Translated by Kingsley Elliot Kaye

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COMMENT: Novak Djokovic Proves His Greatness At US Open



Love him, or hate him. But respect him.


No tennis player has ever been better than Novak Djokovic.

Even Rafa Nadal and Roger Federer have to take their hats off to Novak, and admire him.

Now that Rafa and Roger have left Djokovic on his own stage at least for now, tennis fans love Novak.


Djokovic’s performance on Sunday evening in the U.S. Open final was simply amazing. Daniil Medvedev also played his heart out, but Djokovic went one step further. He was sensational.

It was a thrill-a-minute three-set match. It lasted well into the night after starting at mid-afternoon. The second set alone lasted 104 minutes.

Djokovic was the winner, 6-3, 7-6 (5), 6-3, but New York still loves 2021 champion Medvedev.


At 36, the oldest U.S. Open men’s champion ever, Djokovic obviously has a special place in his heart for the number four. It’s the number of times he has won this tournament and the 24th time he has won a Grand Slam title.

The number 24 also was displayed prominently on the white jacket. Novak, his team members and family wore for the victory celebration as a tribute to the No. 24 jersey of deceased friend Kobe Bryant.

Djokovic lost his footing at least three times in the tight second set, stumbling to the surface once, apparently due to the length of the rallies.

Djokovic could look like he was almost completely wiped out of it physically one minute, and then play like Superman the next minute.


Both men played great tennis, especially in the thrill-a-second second set in which Medvedev gained one set point in the 12th game before Djokovic recovered to force a tiebreaker.

Medvedev appeared to be in charge after out-playing Novak to win one of his drop shots to take a 5-4 lead in the tiebreaker. The match may have been decided on the next three points, all won by Djokovic on errors by the 6-6 Russian.

The big question now is what happens next January in the Australian Open. Right now, Djokovic probably wants to play . . . and win what has been his favorite tournament as far as success. But things can change quickly for players in their mid-30s. Just ask Roger or Rafa.

James Beck was the 2003 winner of the USTA National Media Award. A 1995 MBA graduate of The Citadel, he can be reached at

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