With hard court game clicking, Francisco Cerundolo’s Cinderella story continues in MiamiBy Mar 31, 2022
Rafael Nadal tags Coco Gauff as future “multi-Grand Slam winner” in Wimbledon pressBy Jul 01, 2022
Jessica Pegula reunites with Stan Smith after breakthrough Wimbledon resultBy Jul 01, 2022
WATCH: Future Wimbledon champion Stefan Djokovic hits the practice courts with dad Novak at WimbledonBy Jul 01, 2022
Beginner’s Guide: Can comic hero Alexander Bublik laugh last at Wimbledon?By Jul 01, 2022
Astrology vs Reality: How did The Volley’s Wimbledon preview hold up after two rounds?By Jun 30, 2022
Liam Broady keeps banter going after breakthrough Wimbledon win over Diego SchwartzmanBy Jun 30, 2022
Quote of the Day: Nick Kyrgios’ mic drop moment: "I just wanted to remind everyone that I'm pretty good"By Jun 30, 2022
WATCH: Taylor Fritz lands dive volley to win point of the tournament at WimbledonBy Jun 30, 2022
Garbiñe Muguruza on the “very hard blow” of losing her tennisBy Jun 30, 2022
With hard court game clicking, Francisco Cerundolo’s Cinderella story continues in Miami
After making his mark alongside brother Juan Manuel, the 23-year-old ATP Masters 1000 debutant will next face No. 6 seed Casper Ruud for a place the Miami final.
Published Mar 31, 2022
WATCH: Francisco Cerundolo speaks with Prakash Amritraj on Tennis Channel Live following his 2022 Miami quarterfinal victory.
Francisco Cerundolo had never played an ATP Masters 1000 event or won a hard court match in his ATP career before the Miami Open. Now the No. 103-ranked Argentine is the tournament’s lowest-ranked player ever to reach the semifinals, and he’s almost guaranteed a spot in the Top 50 when the tournament is done.
It’s been a career-changing few weeks for the 23-year-old, who began the tournament drawn into the same quarter as his younger brother Juan Manuel Cerundolo. The pair had made their ATP breakthroughs together last year on home soil, with Juan Manuel lifting the Cordoba trophy and Francisco finishing runner-up in Buenos Aires a week later.
Their success was intertwined once again in Miami, where Francisco and Juan Manuel became the first brothers to reach the third round at the same ATP Masters 1000 event since Alexander and Mischa Zverev’s 2018 run in Monte Carlo.
When 20-year-old Juan Manuel, a counterpunching lefty who favors clay courts, fell to Frances Tiafoe in the third round, Francisco, a right-handed aggressive baseliner with a solid two-handed backhand, rallied the multicultural Miami crowd to avenge his brother’s defeat a round later with a 6-7(2), 7-6(3), 6-2 victory.
He’s been enjoying the fervent support from Argentine fans during his surreal run in Miami, as he’s navigated a tough draw to record career-best wins over No. 16 seed Reilly Opelka (via retirement), No. 22 seed Gael Monfils, No. 28 seed Tiafoe and No. 9 seed Jannik Sinner (via retirement).
“It’s like playing in Argentina,” Cerundolo said after his 4-1 win over Sinner in the quarterfinals. “Yesterday, I played an American guy [Tiafoe], and I think more people were cheering for me than for him. So, it was really weird.
“I love to play with my Argentine people, Latin people, it’s fantastic. It brings my best inside the court. Nowhere else in the world, except Argentina, am I feeling this at home.”
Like many Argentine athletes Francisco hails from a quintessential sports-mad family, but the Cerundolos take it to a whole different level. Dad Alejandro, who goes by “Toto”, was a former tennis player who reached the Top 300 during the 1980s, and mom Maria Luz is a sports psychologist. Both of their sons are tennis pros on the ATP Tour, while their daughter, middle child Maria “Coni” Constanza, is a field hockey player. She is currently in South Africa representing Argentina at the Junior World Cup.
While their parents are at home in Argentina following their kids’ international exploits on the TV, Juan Manuel has stayed in Miami to support his older brother—and to keep him humble, after cameras caught the younger Cerundolo dealing a table tennis beatdown to the elder.
“This is crazy. We talked about it when we were younger; we have been together through every stage of his career and I’ll always want the greatest of success for him,” he told ATPTour.com’s Alvaro Rama. “It makes me happy to have shared this week with him, although it’s a shame that I lost first and we couldn’t play each other.”
Francisco, who grew up idolizing the likes of David Nalbandian, Mariano Zabaleta and Gabriela Sabatini, now posts selfies with the Argentine legends on his Instagram. He also taps them for tips and advice—especially Nalbandian, who is currently traveling the tour as the coach of Miomir Kecmanovic.
“As I'm improving [and playing the] biggest events, I'm able to meet them more often, so it's amazing. Of course we are going to have a chat,” Cerundolo said. “They can give me some thoughts and experience they had in the past, so it's really nice to be able to just hang around with them, and they are gonna give me some tips, so it's fantastic.”
With Nalbandian’s tips alongside his coach Kevin Konfederak’s guidance, Cerundolo will look to keep scaling to new heights in Miami, where he’ll face world No. 8 Casper Ruud for a place in the final. He's already added his own chapter to Argentine tennis history as the first player from his country to reach the semifinals on his ATP Masters 1000 debut.
It will be Cerundolo's second match ever against a Top 10 player; he won just three games against Diego Schwartzman last year in the Buenos Aires final. But in a sign of how far he’s come since then, only ‘details’ separated Cerundolo and Schwartzman when they met again at the same tournament earlier this year in a 3-6, 6-2, 7-5 defeat.
“These last two weeks have been really crazy,” Cerundolo reflected. “I knew I was playing well. In South America, it was the same. I couldn’t beat Peque [Schwartzman] because of a few details, but I knew my level was there and that at any moment I would get another opportunity. I played badly in Indian Wells and at the Challenger [in Phoenix], but I was still working and training hard.
“When I won my first match here, I gained a lot of confidence and my hard court game finally began to flow.”