Under The Spotlight : Jerzy Janowicz

Last week, we witnessed a fairytale week of Jerzy Janowicz at the Paris Masters. The 21-year-old qualifier beat five top-20 players in succession including the 2012 US Open champion Andy Murray before falling short in the final on the hands of David Ferrer. Only five years ago he was ranked outside the top-1500 players and after that heroic week in Paris, he now climbs to a world No. 26, fantastic achievement considering he only came to Paris as a qualifier and began the year outside the top-200. After the victory in the semi-final against world No. 20 Gilles Simon, he was quickly in tears indicating that he couldn’t believe what he had just done. Watching him so emotional on TV was like watching someone who had just won a Grand Slam, what an incredible moment for him and his family.

Jerzy Janowicz after the victory against Gilles Simon

Born in Łódź, Poland twenty-one years ago, he began playing tennis at the age of five with his parents, he grew up as a big fan of Pete Sampras. He quickly came into the spotlight. He reached the finals of Boys’ Singles at the 2007 US Open and 2008 French Open. The 6’8″ Pole did not start his career in an easy way. His parents had to sell off their assets to fund his early tennis career. He was looking for sponsors all over the place. Janowicz also mentioned after the match against David Ferrer that he sometimes had to sleep in his car during a tournament.

Fast forward to the future, he’s now really on a high, saying that he’s playing the best tennis of his life. Known for his almost unreturnable serve and his devastating drop-shots as he has shown last week in Paris, notably against Gilles Simon where he was put under so much pressure by the Pole. Talking about pressure, Janowicz is a cool guy on the court. He mostly doesn’t care what the crowd are saying. But inside him, he’s got so much emotion. He couldn’t even describe what he felt after that magical victory in the semi-final against the crowd-favourite Frenchman. He looks like a nice guy with a good personality who gives everything on the court but is also transparent during interviews. He’s not scared to express his emotions, and that could only bring bonheur to his future.

Jerzy Janowicz volleying

Now, what can he bring to the future of tennis ?

With the soon-retiring Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal who becomes more and more injury-prone, can Jerzy Janowicz reach the level needed to be challenging the top-4 players ? Talent-wise I think the new Poland’s star has got it. But durability to stay in the top-50 is yet to be seen. The only way to find out is to see if he can repeat his current form next year by constantly challenging at major tournaments. But there’s also a real possibility that he could choke for the next years to come like many other players have done so. Gael Monfils was once touted as a future No. 1 but the pressure is too high for him that he keeps getting injuries after injuries, the one-time French Open semi-finalist is now ranked 76th. Ernests Gulbis was also predicted to challenge the top-10. The Latvian who once climbed to a world No. 21 had all the talents, big serve, good baseline play, and a reliable ability to attack only for his level of performance couldn’t be maintained.

But let’s not talk negative. Let’s all just hope that this calm and confident Pole could do his best to stay at this kind of level to make the game more interesting to watch ! After all, he could now enjoy a well-deserved rest before the season begins again with his prize money he collected as a finalist in Paris.

Even though he finished short at Paris Masters, he will never forget where he came from, nor how, he was considered as a “winner” in that stunning week in Paris.

❝ I’m fighting right now for every single ball. Doesn’t matter if I feel good or not, if I have good day or week. I’m just trying to play my tennis. ❞ – Jerzy Janowicz

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