April 14, 2024

Open Court


From qualifying to NY semis for Schnur

Canadian Brayden Schnur has basically been on the road since … 2018.

And in his sixth tournament of the new season, he’s having a career week.

The 23-year-old from Pickering, Ont. squeezed by 37-year-old veteran Paolo Lorenzi of Italy in a 6-7 (7), 7-6 (5), 7-5 win that sent him to the New York Open semifinal.

In the same week Schnur won the first ATP Tour-level match of his career, he has taken it into the weekend.

“I haven’t been playing all that great. But I’m serving well, and it’s been keeping me alive,” Schnur told Tennis.Life.

There has been a lot going on, as Schnur struggled at Challengers in Cleveland and Dallas the two previous week with the ‘flu. He said he was drained after just an hour on court.

While he was still hacking during his second round match, the 23-year-old looked a lot better against Lorenzi in a match that was draining both emotionally and physically. “I’m over it now. The energy level is back and the cardio level is pretty good,” he said.

Schnur’s other challenge has come with his rackets, which he feels haven’t been strung at a consistent tension. “Today, they were super-loose. In the first set I was switching every two games. Finally I stuck with one, and figured it out.”

No break in sight

The match was break-free for nearly 2 ½ hours. There weren’t even that many opportunities.

Until 5-5 in the third set.

Lorenzi gift-wrapped the first – and only – service break by missing the most routine of volleys. It clearly rattled him; Schnur served out the match with barely any pushback.

Along the way, Schnur coughed up a 5-0 lead in the first set tiebreak, and lost it 9-7. He didn’t do anything dramatically wrong other than perhaps getting tight on the third set point, at 6-4. An inside-out forehand as he had control of the point went into the net. Lorenzi stepped up his level at just the right time.

(Screenshot: TennisTV)

But rather than be discouraged, or worry that he didn’t have enough energy to go three, he bounced back.

Schnur took far better care of his second serve in the second set. In the third, it didn’t matter as much. He served at a 74 per cent clip, and lost just two points with that first serve. His 24 aces were a difference-maker.

New high ranking a game changer

The effort on Long Island is a game-changer for Schnur, who was ranked No. 233 in the latter part of 2018 and not going in the right direction.

He began 2019 at No. 172, and arrived for the New York Open qualifying at No. 154. And now, he will head to Delray Beach, Fla. next week ranked no worse than No. 121.

If he can defeat No. 6 seed Sam Querrey Saturday, he could move up another dozen spots.

The camera guy got a few TOO many closeups of Schnur dealing with the last vestiges of a bug that slowed him down for two weeks.(Screenshot: TennisTV)

Big attitude adjustment after Australia

Schnur went down to Australia to try to qualify for his first Grand Slam full of confidence. But he was anything but serene in a 6-4, 6-3 first-round loss to Kamil Majchrzak, a Polish player six months younger and ranked about 20 spots higher.

“I had a good end of the year at the Challenger level, and put in a really good offseason. So my expectations were so high for Australia. I really thought I was going to qualify,” he said. “I really believed it. It was going to be my shining moment.

“I was never able to really calm down and settle myself and play my game. I ran into a guy who played good tennis, but I left a lot out on the court.”

Schnur played his first-round match in the Australian Open qualifying with a lack of serenity that he has since addressed – with great results. (Stephanie Myles/Tennis.Life)

Schnur went right to the Challenger in Newport Beach, Calif. And after a conversation with coach Fred Niemeyer, he took a couple of steps back. Back to the process. Back to worrying about improving his game, and letting the results take care of themselves.

The effect was immediate, as Schnur reached the Newport Beach final, losing to top-50 player Taylor Fritz and jumping some 30 spots in the rankings.

He struggled with his stamina in Cleveland and Dallas. But he still reached the quarterfinals at both events.

Schnur keeping it simple

There will be no big band of Schnurs, or former University of North Carolina teammates, heading his way for the semifinal on Saturday.

A conversation with Philip Bester, a Canadian former pro he looks to as a mentor, about Bester’s experiences as a top junior got him thinking about keeping an even keel.

“We talked about the pressure of family and having everyone come. At this level, all of a sudden if you start doing well, and people want to show up and fly out. But it’s those changes that can sometimes make a huge difference,” he said. “I put everyone on hold. I told them, ‘I love you guys so much for wanting to fly out,’ and for my buddies from college to come up. But there’s enough pressure I put on myself for these matches to win,” he said.

The Canadian does have a couple of friends who happen to be working in New York City this week. There also are three other guys who discovered him during his second-round win over Steve Johnson, and were raucously cheering him on. He hooked them up with tickets for Friday’s match, and he thinks they might come back Saturday.


So he has enough support in the stands to at least have someone to look towards for a little moral support – it he needs it.

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