The first week of Wimbledon has brought its share of stories. From upcoming young players making a lot of noise to well-earned rewards, passing by shocking upsets and scheduling mishaps, there was a lot for everyone.
Part 2 – Leo’s reward
There are players whom we see, from a young age, as very promising and seemingly destined to do great things but who, sadly, end up not being able to fulfil their complete potential due to injuries.
Leonardo Mayer is one of those players.
In 2010, the Argentine suffered a back injury which could very well have ended his career, and which kept him out from the U.S. Open until the Australian Open of the following year. Thankfully, he recovered from it but he is still, at times, suffering from it, as is the case this Wimbledon.
There have been several other injuries and bad luck in his career, which is the reason he has never yet entered the top 50, of which his talent and aggressive game should have made him aspire to for many years.
This Wimbledon, Mayer is making up for the lost time.
Without any preparation for the tournament whatsoever (he has not played since Roland Garros), the 27-year-old started with a 1-2 comeback to upset 25th seed Andreas Seppi, then went on to beat Marcos Baghdatis in four sets to reach the third round of a major for the sixth time in his career (four times at the French Open, including this year – he lost to Rafael Nadal – and once at the U.S. Open).
He then defeated Andrey Kuznetsov to make the fourth round of a Grand Slam for the very first time, and on grass of all surfaces, something that also surprises him greatly: “I never thought that if I would reach the round-of-16 in a Grand Slam, it would be at Wimbledon”, said Mayer to ESPN after his third-round triumph. “But, well, that’s what happened. I’m playing really well here. I’m playing incredibly, and I think that’s also the reason I went all the way to the round-of-16.”
Playing a tennis mainly based on attacking skills, with a powerful serve and a beautiful one-handed backhand, Mayer will try to stop Grigor Dimitrov (who is on an seven-match winning streak) on Monday, a player he did not hesitate to praise: “Playing against Dimitrov is like playing against Federer. He is really good.”
In the end, win or lose, Leonardo Mayer will have his reward. Not only has he been into the last 16 of a major of the first time in his career, he will also, at 27, finally enter the top 50 for the first time once the tournament is over.
A just reward for someone who really has not had it easy in his professional career.
(Leonardo Mayer’s quote can be found in this interview with ESPN (in Spanish). Transcription and translation by BATennis World; Photos: Getty Images)