Juan Manuel Cerundolo understands that this is not just another Monday. As he awoke in his hotel room in Lima, Peru, the first thing the #NextGenATP star did was check the FedEx ATP Rankings. He says a smile crept across his face as he saw ‘No. 94’ next to his name.
The surging Argentine, who will turn 20 years of age on 15 November, is a Top 100 player for the first time. Cerundolo secured his place in the elite club in front of friends and family in Buenos Aires, after reaching the semi-finals at his hometown ATP Challenger Tour event. It was a moment he will never forget.
“It’s the first thing I did, to go to my ATP profile and look at it,” said Cerundolo. “I looked at it and then I returned to look again. I am going to be like this all day. For me to see myself there is a dream come true. It is something I always wanted as a child, when I started playing. I never knew when this moment was going to happen and now I think I deserve it.”
Since he claimed his maiden ATP Tour title at the Cordoba Open in February, Cerundolo made his potential clear. And with the focus and determination of a seasoned veteran, the 19-year-old was already playing beyond his years. ‘La Compu’ (The Computer) – as his friends nicknamed him for his analytical ability on and off the court – did not stop there. ATP Challenger titles in Rome, Como and Banja Luka vaulted him to the precipice of the Top 100, and it would be his 38th match win of the year that moved him across the threshold.
“In recent weeks, I had put some pressure on myself that I wanted to achieve it,” added Cerundolo, following his semi-final finish at the Challenger de Buenos Aires. “I felt that I deserved it, that I should have already been there. Now that I have achieved it, it is a relief and it is something that gives me great satisfaction and makes me even more motivated for what follows.”
Youngest Argentines To Crack Top 100 (since 1990)
|Juan Martin del Potro
||18 years, 6 months
||18 years, 10 months
||19 years, 6 months
||19 years, 9 months
|Juan Manuel Cerundolo
||19 years, 11 months
Cerundolo’s achievement broke a 15-year drought for Argentine teenagers entering the Top 100. He is the first from the South American nation to be in the Top 100 while under the age of 20 since Juan Martin del Potro in 2006. At the age of 18, Del Potro was the youngest Argentine to do so, in the history of the FedEx ATP Rankings.
In addition, Cerundolo is only the seventh Argentine teen to reach the Top 100 since 1990, along with 18-year-olds Del Potro, Jose Acasuso and Guillermo Coria and 19-year-olds David Nalbandian, Mariano Puerta and Mariano Zabaleta. At the age of 19 years and 11 months, Cerundolo is also the fourth teenager to crack the Top 100 this year, joining Carlos Alcaraz, Lorenzo Musetti and Brandon Nakashima.
The left-hander admits that things didn’t always go smoothly. In all his years traveling the world as a junior and a professional, he understands that hard work and focus gave him this opportunity.
“There were many difficult moments over the years, but I never lost focus and stopped fighting. It was a bad year in 2020 because of everything that happened (with the pandemic) and I always kept trying to learn. I thank my entire team for that, especially my coach Andrés Dellatorre, my parents and my brother, who will hopefully also achieve it soon.
“Now I want to stay at this level and enter Grand Slams and ATP Tour tournaments. I know that with the work I will achieve it. Some things change between both levels. In ATPs, they serve stronger and return more aggressive and earn more points at the net. I know that I have a path ahead of me and I can play against anyone.”
Cerundolo celebrates with friends and family in Buenos Aires (photo: Challenger de Buenos Aires)
Taberner Secures Top 100 Debut With Losinj Title
Meanwhile, Carlos Taberner also secured his place among the 100 best players in the world with a title run on the clay of Losinj, Croatia. The 24-year-old makes his Top 100 debut at a career-high No. 93 in the FedEx ATP Rankings.
Like Cerundolo, the Spaniard is a three-time Challenger champion this year and is playing the best tennis of his young career. Also the champion in Antalya and Aix-en-Provence, Taberner is making a charge of his own through the Challenger circuit and has also tested his talents on the ATP Tour. He recently reached his first tour-level quarter-final in Nur-Sultan last month and followed that with a first ATP Masters 1000 match win at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells. There, he upset World No. 68 Jaume Munar in straight sets.
“Today is the first day that I am appearing in the Top 100 of the FedEx ATP Rankings. It’s a great achievement that I reached,” said Taberner. “It’s been a journey with some good moments and some difficult ones, but I am very proud of myself and I hope to keep going forward.”
Taberner is the second Spaniard to break into the Top 100 this year, following Alcaraz’s breakthrough in May. It marks the fourth straight year in which a player from the European nation has cracked the Top 100, also joining Pedro Martinez (2020), Alejandro Davidovich Fokina (2019) and Munar (2018).