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Francisco Cerundolo: Time to Tango

Cerundoloweb

When Argentina's top-ranked player Francisco Cerundolo got the call to join Team World at Laver Cup Vancouver 2023, he was “super happy.”

The 25-year-old from Buenos Aires had kept a close eye on previous editions of the Laver Cup and was eager to be nominated on Captain John McEnroe’s side.

“It’s an honor for me to represent the rest of the world. It was something that I wanted to happen,” he says. “I watched the past years, how they play there, the emotion they have – everything was amazing.”

While many of this year’s Team World contingent know each other well and have pushed each other up the rankings, Cerundolo, as the only South American, plans to bring some Latin vibes to the mix, improve his teammates’ Spanish and add points to the leaderboard for the defending champions.

“They are all great guys there, I have a great relationship with them so I’m gonna have fun,” he says.

Cerundolo has built a reputation as someone who works hard and is well-liked on the tour.

“Francisco is always smiling when he is off court, someone just happy, and nice to be around. A lot of tennis players are very focused, very serious, but he always has a smile on his face,” says Shelton.

Tommy Paul, whose four matches on the ATP Tour against Cerundolo have gone to three sets with a 2-2 head-to-head, describes the Argentine as a “super nice guy.”

“He’s definitely one of the toughest players on tour to play against so I’m really looking forward to seeing him battle,” says Paul.

Cerundolo’s experience playing college tennis at the University of South Carolina in 2018 is a sign that he will easily assimilate into the team environment, according to Canadian No.1 Felix Auger-Aliassime.

“He has more self-confidence and belief that he can beat some of the best players. We’ll see a lot of him in the future as one of those players who are very consistent at a high level.”

How it’s going

Cerundolo’s rapid ascent up the rankings dates to February 2022 when he reached his first ATP 500 semifinal in Rio and advanced to his first Masters semifinal at Miami. With strong performances on clay and hard courts, he proved adept on grass, pushing Rafael Nadal to four sets at Wimbledon in Cerundolo’s center court debut.

Shortly after the Argentine won his first ATP singles title in Bastad, and broke into the Top 30, he upset world No.8 Andrey Rublev in Hamburg and moved to No.24 in the rankings with a semifinal finish – having improved more than 100 places in six months.

In 2023, Cerundolo captured a second ATP title, this time on grass at Eastbourne where he defeated Paul in the championship match. It marked the first time an Argentine had won an ATP grasscourt event since Javier Frana in 1995 at Nottingham. Also this year he was runner-up to Arthur Fils at Lyon, made the semifinals at Bastad, and the quarterfinals at the Miami and Rome Masters, as well as the ATP 500 in Barcelona where he upset Casper Ruud in the second round.

Francisco Cerundolo won his second ATP singles title at Eastbourne, defeating teammate Tommy Paul in the final.

Cerundolo at Laver Cup 2023

Having teammates who support each other is one of the key reasons Cerundolo wanted to compete at the Laver Cup.

“The passion players play with, the crowd, everything that you have your teammates there next to the court, so you can talk to each other … it’s something unique that the event has. That makes it really special,” he says.

He has watched many replays of Captains Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe competing in their heyday and wants to learn as much as he can from the Team World legend.

“They were super rivals,” he says. “It’s fantastic that they are friends. Johnny is always with a smile. He won everything in singles, doubles. I will try to learn something from him.”

Being a team is one thing, but being a unified team will determine who wins Laver Cup 2023. “To win the Laver Cup we need to play our best tennis, all of us, to get on super well and to have a great vibe as a team. That will push all of us to play our best tennis on the court,” says Cerundolo.

“What I’m looking forward to most is to have a great time, to enjoy the event because I watch it a lot of times on TV and it was amazing.”

Read Francisco Cerundulo’s full Team World profile

 

 

 

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