Jordan Thompson’s Tale Of Two Seasons
It was the first round of the 2016 US Open and Jordan Thompson had just blown a two-set lead to fall to gritty Belgian Steve Darcis 7-5 in the fifth set. In the post-match autopsy, coach Des Tyson laid it on the line.
“He sat me down and said that I owed it to myself to start eating better given how hard I was working on the court and the gym. I had a little bit of a sweet tooth for lollies (candy) and desserts. I really took that advice on board,” Thompson told ATPTour.com. “I cut them out and I noticed straight away how much better I felt.”
Three years on, 25-year-old Thompson is now one of the most disciplined and competitive forces on the ATP Tour, much in the mould of fellow Australians Alex de Minaur and John Millman. He’s also the second-ranked Aussie at No. 46.
“I have that competitive streak like Alex and John. I don’t want to give away a point and neither do those blokes. Growing up I looked up to Lleyton Hewitt. I loved the way he competed and his ‘never-say-die’ attitude. I also respect Andy Murray for his fighting spirit.
“I’ve been labelled as a pretty quiet guy and a man of few words. I’m happy to just go about my business and let the other [Aussie] guys have bigger profiles. I like remaining under the radar.”
Although Thompson has embarked on a steady march up the ATP Rankings during the past 18 months, the pathway has been a tale of two seasons.
In 2018 he endured a horror 1-11 record at tour-level events. He did, however, win 52 matches at the ATP Challenger Tour, a mark second only to the 57 matches won by Carlos Berlocq in 2007. In 2019 Thompson has been off to the races, boasting a career-best 21 match wins heading into this week’s Citi Open and reaching his first ATP Tour final in ‘s-Hertogenbosch.
“2018 was a rough year. I only won one tour-level match and I never heard the end of it, whether it be friends, family or other people on social media,” the Sydney native said.
“I had my tonsils out at the end of 2017 and that knocked me around in the pre-season. I came into Australia and ran into some tough tennis and it dragged my confidence down. But I went back to the Challenger Tour and won more than 50 matches. It’s tough to drop back to that level but I was prepared to do it. That’s where I got my confidence and match fitness back.”
Thompson, who is coached by fellow Australian Jaymon Crabb, finished the 2018 Challenger season by reaching three consecutive finals, winning back-to-back titles (for the loss of just two sets) on home soil in Traralgon and Canberra.
“That was a pretty good way to finish the year and then I hit the ground running in 2019. I was fit and hitting the ball much better.”
At this year’s Miami Open he beat Top 50 players Cameron Norrie, Karen Khachanov and Grigor Dimitrov before falling to then World No. 7 Kevin Anderson in the round of 16. “Against Khachanov I barely missed a ball. That gave me a lot of confidence going into the match against Grigor. I then took a Top 10 player in Kevin Anderson to 7-5, 7-5, so that run really instilled belief in myself.”
The hardcore Wests Tigers rugby league fan then reached the third round at Roland Garros before his run to the ‘s-Hertogenbosch final (l. Mannarino). He continued his good grass form by reaching the Antalya semi-finals. He’s also appeared in three other quarter-finals this year in Sydney, New York and Houston, demonstrating that he has a game for all surfaces.
And Thompson, who earlier in his career worked with countrymen Sandon Stolle and Jamie Morgan, says that he’s just getting started.
“I was always told that my best tennis would come around 28, 29, 30. You can see how many guys in the Top 50 are in their 30s. I’m more mature and always working to be better and striving to achieve. I don’t want to stop just because I’m in the Top 50. I want to progress to the Top 40, Top 30.”