What’s Wrong with Filip Peliwo?

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Filip Peliwo has struggled since turning pro back in 2013. The 21-year-old Canadian was thought to be one of the next great stars of the game, but somewhere along the way it has all gone wrong for him. Or has it?

Before turning pro, Peliwo’s career was going in only one direction and that was up. The Vancouver native had great success in juniors becoming the only male Canadian junior tennis player ever to be ranked World #1. He accomplished this feat in 2012 after winning the junior Wimbledon title. Two months after his Wimbledon title Peliwo won the junior US Open title. Peliwo was also awarded the title of ITF World Champion for his accomplishments and great play in 2012. He not only won two Grand Slam titles, but made the final of all four. The following year he turned pro.

Growing up, Peliwo told his parents he would be the #1 ranked player in the world. After his successful juniors career that looked like a real possibility for the Canadian. Unfortunately for Peliwo the success he experienced in juniors is not happening now and his own goal of becoming World #1 is further away than ever before.

Since turning pro Peliwo has experience numerous injuries to his left ankle and hip slowing down his development. His inability to stay healthy is one of the main reasons his progress is delayed. The highest rank he has achieved is #223 in April of last year. Currently Peliwo is ranked #526.

This low ranking is another hit to his development. With his ranking so low he is not able to play in ATP Tour level tournaments meaning he still does not know what it’s like and what it takes to play and beat top 100 opponents on a regular basis. Peliwo is instead stuck playing in Challengers and Futures.

All Peliwo can do is train and play with the hope that one day his game comes together. He does not have any major weapons in his game that can skyrocket him up the rankings like his fellow compatriot Milos Raonic. Raonic, like a lot of the young guys who bolt up the rankings at young ages in the last few years, has weapons that can overpower an opponent. For example, Raonic had his serve which pushed him up the rankings and now Nick Kyrgios has a power game behind his racquet allowing him too to overpower his opponents. Peliwo does not have that which is why it shouldn’t be said it has all gone wrong for him.

He will naturally take longer to find his game on the ATP Tour because he has no overpowering weapons, but as Daniel Nestor put it Peliwo does hit the ball big for someone 5-foot-11. Height allows for more power and reach in a player’s game. On the junior level Peliwo got away with being a small player because most juniors are still growing and tend to be smaller than Tour players. Once Peliwo turned pro a lot of the players are not only taller than him, but bulkier.

“It is hard to break through to the top level of pros, takes a lot of physical work and to get mentally strong. You can’t get away with mistakes against the pros like it is possible to do with juniors,” says Peliwo last year in an interview with Last Word on Sport’s Stefano Berlincioni.

On top of the size and power difference, his injuries have slowed down his progress so naturally he will take longer to adjust and become successful.

Peliwo is still only 21 and the way the ATP Tour has changed over the last few years players are playing longer and are not reaching their prime until later on in their careers. Look at Stan Wawrinka; it took him until he was 28 to win a Grand Slam. A decade ago players started pondering retirement at 28. The sport has changed and we shouldn’t be too quick to judge Peliwo and other talented junior players at only 21 anymore.

In Peliwo’s interview with Berlincioni he also says his goals for 2015 are to stay healthy and enter or get closer to the top 100. Unfortunately for Peliwo he has accomplished neither and so far it is yet another difficult season for him.

With the Rogers Cup starting next week Peliwo was granted a Wild Card, hopefully that is the start of better days for Peliwo. Nevertheless this is still going to be a longer process to achieving success than many first thought.

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