Qualifier Soonwoo Kwon earned his first ATP Tour win on Tuesday at the BB&T Atlanta Open, battling past Indian Prajnesh Gunneswaran 6-7(4), 7-5, 6-0 in two hours and 31 minutes to reach the second round.
“I am really, really happy to win for the first time at an ATP tournament,” Kwon said. “I had lost three times in a row against Gunneswaran, but today I won for the first time against him, so I’m really happy for that.”
Although the pair had never played at tour-level before, Gunneswaran won six of the seven professional sets they had played. Kwon saved all three break points he faced in this meeting.
After the match, ATPTour.com caught up with the Korean — who next plays Cameron Norrie — to learn more about the 21-year-old.
1. The Korean Is Closing On The Top 100, But Is In No Rush
After qualifying in Atlanta and winning his first ATP Tour main draw match, Kwon is projected to reach a career-high ATP Ranking on Monday. His current best is No. 115, which he reached earlier this month.
“I know that I’m really close to the Top 100, but I’m thinking about it step by step,” Kwon said. “It’s no rush. I’m really happy that I’m close to the Top 100, though.”
2. A Loss Against Khachanov At Wimbledon Was A Great Learning Experience
At The Championships, Russian star Karen Khachanov dispatched Kwon 7-6(6), 6-4, 4-6, 7-5 in three hours and seven minutes. Although the Korean did not secure his first Grand Slam main draw triumph, he took a lot out of that defeat, and he believes the experience will help him greatly in the months to come.
“I was losing, but I never gave up in sets and kept trying to fight and come back,” Kwon said. “I learned a lot from that, never giving up on any single point.”
In fact, the 21-year-old wants fans to know one thing about him, it’s that he will always give everything he has every single point.
“I never give up against opponents. I always fight until we have to shake hands,” Kwon said.
3. Kwon Idolises Roger & Rafa
Kwon has not yet gotten to practise with either Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal, but they were his idols growing up. The Korean hopes to play qualifying at the upcoming Coupe Rogers, where he would be ecstatic to work his way into the main draw and compete against Nadal. Federer is not playing that ATP Masters 1000 tournament.
“I’m really close to playing in the same tournaments as them, so I’m really preparing for that,” Kwon said.
4. The 21-Year-Old Is A Video Game Afficionado
Kwon says that he enjoys Playstation, and playing video games after dinner. If he’s not doing that, he added that you can likely find him watching tape of his next day’s opponent.
5. Kwon’s Inspired By Countrymen, Aiming For The Top 10
When Kwon was a junior growing up in Korea, he was not as well-known as some of his countrymen, like Hyeon Chung or Duckhee Lee, who he grew up with. He says they were always more popular, which has motivated him.
“I always try to think about beating them, fighting to get better and better,” Kwon said. “It’s motivation, it gives me a goal to catch up to them.”
Beyond that, Kwon says his ultimate goal is to one day crack the Top 10 of the ATP Rankings.