By Lisa-Marie Burrows
What qualities does a tennis player need to have to be continuously successful? Talent? Passion? Physicality? Mentality? Perseverance? Endurance? Attributes such as these are all part and parcel of a professional tennis player, but to maintain all of these things week in week out, tournament after tournament, having packed the suitcase in one country only to step on an airplane and open it another country whilst fighting off fatigue is not easy, but it must be done.
Many of the players have these qualities, but not letting any of these attributes waiver when you are tired, disappointed or homesick are one of the toughest challenges week after week, year after year, yet for some players this comes naturally.
Argentina’s Juan Mónaco is a prime example of a player who possesses such qualities and this week he has enjoyed breaking into the Top 10 for the first time in his career after winning his first 500 tournament at the bet-at-home Open – German Tennis Championships in Hamburg. It was not an easy final for the new world No.10 as he had to take on home town favourite Tommy Haas and of course his adoring partisan audience who were hoping that the German would lift the trophy, but it was not to be, as Mónaco won in straight sets 7-5, 6-4.
The 28-year-old Monaco has landed the tenth spot amongst the worlds most elite players – in a generation that comprises arguably some of the greatest players of all time with the likes of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic in the mix. Entering the Top 10 is not an easy feat to achieve in an era so heavily dominated by three top athletes such as those mentioned and he now joins compatriot and former US Open champion Juan Martin Del Potro who assumes the ninth position in the rankings.
It has not been an easy road to achieve for Mónaco, a six-time title winner, who has compiled an impressive 31-10 match record in 2012. He has put together his most successful season and is enjoying a career best year having won two other tournaments in 2012 at Vina del Mar and in Houston and he was also a finalist in Stuttgart the preceding week to Hamburg, where he lost to Janko Tipsarevic. It is not easy to bounce back from any defeat – particularly in a closely fought match (especially a final with a beautiful Mercedes up for grabs too!), but Mónaco picked up his racquet and got back on with it and refused to let defeat hinder his performance in Hamburg, which has made his title win all the more impressive.
Juan Mónaco has had a challenging 2012 having come back from a horrific ankle injury, which he sustained on the clay courts of Monte Carlo, leaving many wondering if he would be able to participate in the tournaments during the rest of the season, but participate he did. He surmounted his come back in Rome where he impressively pushed Novak Djokovic, who was No.1 in the world at that time, to three sets and almost had him on the brink of defeat.
As his injury improved, so did his confidence. At Roland Garros he made it through to the fourth round before losing to eventual champion, Rafael Nadal and on the grass courts of Wimbledon Mónaco reached the third round, having never gotten past the first round match before.
Upon reaching the Top 10, nobody can deny that Juan ‘Pico’ Mónaco is one of the hardest working players on Tour, who puts in the hours daily on the tennis court and trains hard off court to achieve the goal of being amongst the elite in the world. Many were delighted to see that he has allocated the position, as he is such a popular competitor with players, media and fans of tennis.
He may have achieved this at 28-years of age, but he is a prime example of it is better late than never. In fact 2012 has been a great year for many of the ‘older’ players on the ATP and WTA Tours and like a fine wine, many have continued to get better with age. Andreas Seppi is also 28-years old and has enjoyed achieving a career high ranking in June of No.24 after an impressive clay court season, particularly in his home country tournament in Rome where he made it to the quarterfinals. His Italian compatriot, Sara Errani, is 25-years old and has won four titles this year and was the surprise runner up at the French Open.
Wimbledon featured two champions who are no strangers to the tournament – Roger Federer and Serena Williams. We all know about their illustrious history and outstanding achievements at SW19 and this year is no exception, as Roger Federer lifted his record breaking 7th Wimbledon trophy and Serena Williams leveled her sister’s record of five victories at the Championships.
As one of the hardest working players around, Pico has never seemed to worry about simply trying to be better than his contemporaries or predecessors, but only to be better than himself and push his own tennis capabilities to the limit.
Will he continue with this fantastic form and win a Masters Series title? A Grand Slam? An Olympic medal? Who knows? But the one thing for sure, is that he will go out there fighting for one and his continued resilience and determination have proven that he has rightfully earned that Top 10 place in the rankings.