By James Crabtree
Australia’s Marinko Matosevic started the year at ranked 203. He is now placed within the top 50.
Sadly, the new Australian number one is not a household name.
Now this is not the moment to stress out and point the finger. And don’t blame Bernard Tomic and call him a disappointment, decide he needs a new coach, tell him he needs a new game plan, advise him to shape up and improve his serve etcetera.
And this is not the time, either, to tell Lleyton Hewitt to hang up his racquet, give up the game and tell him he is too old and that his body just can’t take this anymore.
This is the time to appreciate the hard work and diligence of one of the most overlooked players on tour.
Congratulations Marinko Matosevic, you are Australia’s number one, joining a list that includes Pat Rafter, Pat Cash, John Newcombe and Rod Laver. Not bad for a twenty seven year old who has been on the tour since 2004, was by no means a high achieving junior and has spent the majority of his career plying his trade on the challenger circuit.
Matosevic now regularly rubs shoulders with the game’s elite.
Back in January Bosnian-born Marinko played and won the Australian Open wildcard tournament, a competition devised to fairly reward the best lower ranked Aussie’s with a place in the main draw of the Australian Open. Marinko won the event, but in interviews afterwards seemed disheartened by the fact he even had to play the tournament. He then went on to lose four first round matches in a row, to some notable names including Tommy Haas and Gael Monfils. After this miserable start he won a challenger, then had the sort of tournaments a player looks for to change the course of their career.
Marinko entered the Delray Beach event as a qualifier and lost in the final to Kevin Anderson. Impressively he won seven matches in a row beating the likes of Ivo Karlovic, Alex Bogomolov Jr. and Ernests Gulbis.
Since this great run, and no doubt confidence boost, the forgotten Aussie has proved Delray Beach was no fluke and on a variety of surfaces. Although he didn’t perform well at the grand slams he has clocked up the air miles and shown consistency throughout the year, which has given him direct entry into events. He made the Quarter Finals in Munich, Eastbourne and Stockholm and reached the semi-finals in Los Angeles. He has also managed some impressive victories over the likes of Richard Gasquet, Robin Hasse and Florian Mayer. And the gain has not just been emotional; Marinko has made over $350,000 dollars this year which is over half his career earnings to date.
So why with this sort of form would he be omitted from the recent Davis Cup tie versus Germany, with the first choices being Bernard Tomic, Lleyton Hewitt and Matthew Ebden? Should Pat Rafter decide against the usual names and give true form an opportunity?
I believe credit should be given when credit is due, and with Marinko Matosevic the new Australian number one (officially established this coming Monday, Octboer 29, 2012) then recognition is definitely due. With the 2013 season on the horizon one can wait to see if Marinko’s success continues. But for now let’s salute his success for 2012 and only hope for more.