At this time last year during the Western & Southern Open, Miomir Kecmanovic was not in action, as he made final preparations for the US Open qualifying event. His ranking hovered in and out of the Top 200 as he worked to establish his game at the highest levels of the sport.
Twelve months later, the Serbian has emerged as one of the talents to watch, after posting a quarterfinal run at Indian Wells and reaching his first ATP final on grass in Antalya, Turkey. On Monday, the 58th-ranked Kecmanovic secured his first Top 30 victory by ousting fellow 19-year-old Felix Auger-Aliassime in straight sets—and subsequently added a Top 10 upset Tuesday—eliminating sixth-ranked Alexander Zverev, 6-7 (4), 6-2, 6-4, to give himself a strong chance of making his Top 50 debut next week.
In reflecting on his growth this year, Kecmanovic credited world No. 4 Dominic Thiem for showing him the meaning of being professional, in both labor and conduct.
“All the work sort of came together. I had a very good off-season with Dominic Thiem,” Kecmanovic told Brett Haber and Chanda Rubin. “That kind of gave me an insight on how I have to play, behave and act on the court. I think from then, it started going a lot better.”
Though Kecmanovic dropped the first set to Zverev, he quickly put that disappointment in the rear-view mirror. The qualifier also received some assistance from the struggling German, who committed 20 double faults to remain winless in five Cincinnati appearances.
“It definitely helped me a lot that he was giving me some more points on his serve, but [on] the groundies, he was very good,” said Kecmanovic. “I felt a little pressure to maybe use this opportunity. Thankfully I was able to stay calm and play some good tennis.”
Kecmanovic will look to reach the quarterfinals when he meets the winner of Frances Tiafoe and Roberto Bautista Agut.