In 2022, Benjamin Bonzi unlocked a slew of new achievements—two ATP semifinal runs, a Davis Cup debut, his first Top 15 win and career-high ranking of No. 44.

While the injury bug ultimately resulted in a premature finish, a refreshed Bonzi has come out swinging to start 2023. The 26-year-old has torn apart the Tata Open Maharashtra draw in Pune, taking out No. 3 seed Emil Ruusuvuori and No. 6 Filip Krajinovic en route to the semifinals.

Bonzi maintained his momentum Friday, ousting No. 2 seed Botic van de Zandschulp, 7-6 (5), 6-7 (5), 6-1, to reach his maiden ATP final. Get to know the Frenchman in Baseline’s “Five Minutes With…” series:

What's the biggest lesson you've taken away about what it takes to hold your own on the ATP Tour?

BONZI: Maybe the big thing for me is to learn how to play an ATP event, because I was playing a lot on the Challenger tour in 2021. The level is different, the consistency is different, so you have to learn about it. The emotional approach for the events as well. I think this is the best progress for me, and now I feel better in these kind of events.

Bonzi went 21-25 in tour-level contests last season.

Bonzi went 21-25 in tour-level contests last season.


Your work paid off in cracking the Top 50 in July 2022. What are the next steps to building off your first full year at the top tier of the sport?

BONZI: I think I'm ready to win an ATP 250 event. You have to have a really good week, but (2022) proved to me that I have the level to play those guys. It’s like little details to win those kind of important matches, to beat Top 20 guys. I've done a lot of progress, so I'm not so far, so just keep going and then we will see. The first thing is to come back into the Top 50 and then go higher, for sure.

There's no reason to believe that can't happen soon for you.

If you had to describe your style of play to a fan watching you for the first time in the stands, what would your summation be?

BONZI: My game… I think I can do pretty well with a lot of things. Maybe not the big shots, but I can move very well on the court, I can be solid from the baseline. I'm trying to be more aggressive and to be better in this kind of sector, to maybe go more to the net.

Switching descriptions: according to your ATP profile, you shared your worst quality is being shy. So I'm curious as a fellow shy guy, how have you pushed yourself to foster new relationships as you've worked your way up the rankings and played the biggest tournaments?

BONZI: Yeah. When you spend more time on the ATP Tour, you see many guys, so little by little you practice with them, you talk with them, and then it's easier. There is no choice, so you do it and you are getting better after each one.

Any players on tour that maybe help you come out of your shell a bit more?

BONZI: I'm very comfortable with all the French players. And I started to get some friendship with foreign guys. You just have to go for it, try to speak to them, practice with them. I think there is no really bad guy on the tour.

On the subject of comfort, having a base that feels like home can go a long way. Why is Marseille such a good fit for you?

BONZI: First of all, I fell in love with the city, maybe two or three years of living here. There is the sea, the sun is here a lot of time during the year. And the people are very nice. I also cheer for the football club, so I feel the emotions of the city with everyone during the matches when I go to the stadium. It’s a big part of my life now.

To wrap us up, tell us something about yourself that makes you unique to everyone else we cross paths with on the ATP Tour.

BONZI: Whoa. I'm me, so this is unique. Everyone is unique. So that's the best answer I can give you.

That's valid!