Jarry, Garin Have Chile Back Among Tennis’ Elite At ATP Cup
Chile is back. For much of the past decade, the future of men’s tennis in the South American country that produced champions such as Marcelo Rios, Fernando Gonzalez and Nicolas Massu appeared dim.
At the end of 2014, for instance, the country had zero men inside the Top 190 of the FedEx ATP Rankings.
Rios, the first South American man to reach No. 1, played his last match in 2004; Gonzalez, an 11-time ATP Tour champion, won his final title in 2009; and Massu, a six-time ATP Tour champion and 2004 Athens gold medalist (d. Fish), earned his final Top 100 ranking (No. 99) in June 2010.
After them came no one. From 2011 to 2017, zero Chilean men finished a season inside the Top 100.
But in the past couple years, two 20-somethings hungry to restore tennis greatness in their country have emerged and not only given Chile hope for its tennis future, they have placed their country back on the global stage.
Last year, Cristian Garin, 23, won two ATP Tour titles in Houston and Munich, beating two Nitto ATP Finals qualifiers, Alexander Zverev and Matteo Berrettini, en route to the Munich crown, and 24-year-old Nicolas Jarry reached the Geneva final and captured his maiden ATP Tour title in Bastad.
This week, the two will star in three more global opportunities for Chile. The country will face France, Serbia and South Africa in Group A at the inaugural ATP Cup in Brisbane.
“We have Cris and Nico and two more younger players coming up, and I think they’re going to create a very powerful team for the future,” said Hans Podlipnik-Castillo, their ATP Cup teammate. “They’re already showing amazing results, and I think being here proves that Chile is back on the world’s elite and that’s very positive for the country.”
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Few countries can match Chile’s recent tennis success, and Garin and Jarry both grew up watching and drawing inspiration from the likes of Gonzalez and Massu. Garin watched them at the former ATP event in Vina del Mar, Massu’s hometown.
“I have great memories of both of them. I went to Vina del Mar to watch them both play many times and now consider Nicolas to be a friend. He talks to my coach every day, and I know he’s really proud of me now,” Garin told ATPTour.com last year.
Jarry came to tennis through his grandfather, Jaime Fillol Sr., who reached No. 14 in the FedEx ATP Rankings and won six ATP Tour titles, but Jarry also studied Gonzalez and Massu as a boy.
“I watched all the big names and saw what they did or didn’t do to get better. I knew I was going to be a tall guy and I watched Fernando and Nicolas a lot. But it’s been really fun growing up with tennis in my life,” Jarry said last year.
Both Garin and Jarry, however, have more than forged their own trail to ATP greatness. When Garin was 16, he became only the fifth player 16 or younger since 2000 to win an ATP Tour match. The Chilean beat Serbia’s Dusan Lajovic at Vina del Mar.
Four months later, in June 2013, he drew more comparisons to Chile’s greats. At 17 years old, he won the Roland Garros junior boys title, beating Zverev in the final. Garin became the first Chilean to win the Roland Garros junior title since Gonzalez in 1998.
Garin expected himself – and Chile – to go straight up from there. “After I won that ATP match, I had to play Futures, quallies of Challengers, it was so different… it’s tough,” he said.
But he stuck with it, and last year, in his first Roland Garros main draw, he earned his maiden Grand Slam win. Garin also reached a new-career high of No. 32 in the FedEx ATP Rankings.
Jarry, 24, has steadily hiked the FedEx ATP Rankings as well, finishing No. 99 in 2017, ending the Chilean Top 100 year-end drought, and reaching a new career-high of No. 38 last July.
“It’s been an amazing journey since the beginning,” Jarry said. “Like any tennis player, there have been a lot of ups and downs. [In 2018], in my first year on the ATP Tour, reaching my first final [in Sao Paulo], then a couple of semi-finals. Things have happened to push me and to keep fighting.”
Together at the ATP Cup, he and Garin will try to push Chile another step further in their bid to bring more tennis greatness to their country.
“We are all very close to each other, and we are trying to improve together,” Garin said. “I think that we have good years coming so we have to keep working, keep doing the same things and keep enjoying the life of the tennis player.”