Canadian Filip Peliwo’s career arc is emblematic of how challenging it can be to translate junior success to the pro tour.
But he took an encouraging step in the right direction this week in Nur-Sultan.
Now 27, it was nine years ago that he reached four junior Grand Slam finals – winning at Wimbledon and the US Open.
And he was the No. 1 junior in the world. On top of the world.
But as of today, he’s No. 437 in the ATP Tour rankings and trying to climb back, after missing a full year between March 2020 and March 2021 because of the pandemic stoppage.
His ranking was at No. 382 when he returned. So he’s still swimming upstream, big time.
Welcome win in Kazakhstan
On Sunday, Peliwo upset former top-40 player Andrey Kuznetsov 6-3, 7-5 and won a $25,000 ITF tournament in Nur-Sultan.
It was his third final since returning to action. And it built upon another final three weeks ago at a $25,000 in Pretoria, South Africa, which he lost.
When his points from Sunday’s victory are tallied in a week, he’ll have moved up about 70 spots between those two events. But he’ll still be outside the top 400. And he’ll have had to basically go around the world to do it.
Lack of Canadian events a tough blow for Peliwo
A little over three years ago, in May 2018, Peliwo reached his career singles high of No. 161.
He played the qualifying at all four Grand Slams. And in March, he defeated then No. 95 Matteo Berrettini in the first round of qualifying in Miami.
That’s the kind of tennis he’s capable of.
The Nur-Sultan title was Peliwo’s first in nearly four years, since he went from the qualifying to the winner’s circle at the much-higher level Knoxville Challenger in Tennessee.
Look at the list of victims he left behind in that tournament.
It’s been a struggle since then.
Then again, it always has been David vs. the Goliaths for the Vancouver native. Here’s a piece we wrote about it all the way back in April, 2014 for Yahoo.
But the biggest hit came with the pandemic, which has cancelled professional events in Canada (other than the National Bank Open in 2021) for more than a year and a half.
There would have been Challengers, and Futures, at home to play on a fairly regular basis that might have lent a hand as he works to get back up in the rankings.
Peliwo is scheduled to play another $25,000 in Nur-Sultan this coming week.