Just as in past seasons French, Italian and even British work stood out, 2021 undoubtedly had Argentina in the center of the scene at the level of young promises and not only because of what was done on the Challenger circuit. The presence of two exponents such as Juan Manuel Cerúndolo, with a great start to the year, and Sebastián Báez, with a phenomenal closing in the Next Gen Finals, they are the faithful reflection.
JUAN MANUEL CERÚNDOLO
Francisco’s younger brother surprised at the ATP 250 in Córdoba in February when he went from qualifying to become the first player to lift a trophy in his professional debut since 2004. At 20 years old and with a run of eight consecutive games, he showed signs what was it made of. He then triumphed in three ATP Challenger Tour tournaments on clay courts, finishing the season as the 90th in the world rankings after starting outside the Top 300.
Also in his 20s, he enjoyed a memorable 2021 season as he became the youngest player in Challenger Tour history to win six titles in a single season, while recording the most wins in a single year among players aged 20 and under (44). The Argentine started the season outside of the Top 300 but broke the Top 100 for the first time in late November after triumphing in the Campinas final. Today he was 98 after displaying his talent in Milan, where he reached no less than the semifinals.
Before starting the year, he had only one victory at the professional level and with a 15-7 record in 2021 he got into the noise of the ATP at his own pace. after a series of positive results, he finished the campaign in 56th place. He reached his first ATP Tour final in Newport, before advancing to the fourth round in a Major for the first time at home at the US Open, defeating Aslan Karatsev and his compatriot Taylor Fritz before losing to Novak Djokovic (he stole a set). The American also reached the semifinals in Washington and Antwerp (lost to Diego Schwartzman) and captured three Challenger trophies.
Champion of the Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires 2018, the Frenchman’s style and agility gained more attention in 2021 after a tremendous performance in November as he slipped into the last eight of the Paris Masters 1000 (down to Musetti and Alcaraz) . At the beginning of the year, the world 67 reached its first final in Gstaad (beating Delbonis and Garin) and also advanced to four Challenger Tour finals.
However, a separate paragraph deserves the best appearance of the year that probably has the highest ceiling of the last great that there was in ATP. Carlos Alcaraz, today is the 32nd in the world ranking, he won a title, in Umag, and the Next Gen Finals. He has tennis, has a mentality and has a charisma that is difficult to match. In a historic year, the 18-year-old became the youngest man to reach the third round at Roland Garros since 17-year-old Andrei Medvedev in 1992. He defeated world 3 Stefanos Tsitsipas on his way to the quarterfinals. final at the US Open and defeated Italians Matteo Berrettini and Jannik Sinner in Vienna and Paris, respectively. He could not participate in the Davis Cup Finals, much to his regret, due to positive COVID in what would have been a luxury reinforcement for Spain.