September 27, 2023

Open Court


Down on their (ranking) luck, vets fight it out

WIMBLEDON – There are plenty of aspiring champions at Roehampton every June, those on their first stop towards the top.

There are the marginal guys, too– the 100-200 guys – who routinely hit the Slam qualifying and sometimes make it, with the resulting prize money helping to finance their expenses for months to come.

And then there are the guys who have reached much higher heights, but are out there in the cow pasture trying just as hard as they did the first time.

Here are some of those players; we’ve picked out Ivan Dodig vs. Horacio Zeballos, and Andreas Beck vs. Alejandro Falla as two examples.

Just a few weeks before, the 30-year-old Dodig won the French Open doubles title with Andre Sa of Brazil. That’s 225,000 Euros in prize money. And yet there he was.

Dodig is at a career high No. 4 in doubles. Two years ago after Wimbledon, he was ranked a career-high No. 29 after reaching the fourth round, losing to David Ferrer.

But back issues have dogged him, and his ranking was outside the top 100 (he didn’t even play Wimbledon last year). So there he was, trying his heart out even though, with the exception of 2013, he’s never done particularly well there.

As for Zeballos, his career high ranking is No. 39 (in 2013) but, currently ranked No. 128, it was Roehampton time.

Zeballos won a tough one, 6-7(4) 7-6(5) 6-4 7-6(1), pretty much the last match in all of the qualies. (He lost in the first round of the main draw to David Goffin, 7-6(4) 6-1 6-1).

Also out there were Falla and Beck, two solid lefties.

Falla, 31 and a former top-50 player,  is often remembered as the guy who all but defeated Roger Federer on Centre Court in 2010.


Andreas Beck’s career high was No. 33 in 2009. Currently, he’s ranked No. 186. He hasn’t had great luck at Wimbledon; a couple of times when he qualified he ran into Andy Roddick and Rafael Nadal in the first round of the main draw.

Falla won that one by a similar score, 5-7 7-6(5) 7-6(4) 7-6(6). He lost in four sets to Robin Haase in the first round.

If they’re in the same position when next year’s Wimbledon rolls around, they’ll probably try their hearts out again. They’re tennis players; that’s what they do.


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