Legend lauds “outstanding” depth in Australian men’s tennis
Nine Australian men, led by No.19 Alex de Minaur, are currently ranked inside the world's top 90 in the ATP Tour singles rankings.
John Fitzgerald, a former world No.1 doubles player and a nine-time Grand Slam champion, is thrilled to see the “impressive” depth in Australian men’s tennis.
There are currently nine Australian men ranked inside the world’s top 90 in singles, led by world No.19 Alex de Minaur.
Seven Australian men have also won Grand Slam doubles titles in the past 18 months.
“It’s pretty amazing,” Fitzgerald told tennis.com.au.
“I think it’s an easy thing to judge harshly, because our history has been so successful, especially way back in the 60s, 70s. But the game is more global now, so to have nine men inside the world’s top 100 is quite outstanding.
“Not too long ago, we also had the No.1 women in the world. So, for a small nation – even though we’re historically a tennis nation – it’s impressive.”
Only the USA and France boast more top-100 players in the latest ATP Tour men’s singles rankings (each with 11 players).
Two Australian men – Max Purcell and Aleksandar Vukic – have recorded top-100 singles breakthroughs in recent months.
The 25-year-old Purcell entered the top 100 in March and peaked at world No.62 in June.
Vukic, a 27-year-old who broke into the top-100 in May, now sits at a career-high world No.62 after reaching his first tour-level final in Atlanta last week.
Rinky Hijikata is verging on a top-100 debut as well, with the 22-year-old currently at a career-high world No.110.
“It’s relevant to note that a lot of these players are later developers,” said Fitzgerald.
“They did not set the world on fire when they are juniors, but that is often the case.”
As a former Australian Davis Cup captain, Fitzgerald does not envy Lleyton Hewitt’s daunting task of selecting a five-member team for next month’s Davis Cup Finals group stage.
Back in 2010, during Fitzgerald’s final year at the helm of the team, Hewitt was Australia’s sole top-100 singles player.
“The job of the captain is to pick the guys that they think are the right combination,” Fitzgerald said.
“It’s better off to have nine top-100 players (to choose from) rather than two. It’s a good problem to have.”
The Australian Davis Cup team recorded a runner-up finish in 2022, the nation’s best result in 19 years.
The Aussie team’s 2023 campaign begins with round-robin clashes against host nation Great Britain, France and Switzerland at Manchester from 12-17 September.
Great Britain currently has four top-100 singles players, while Switzerland has two.
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