When the draw came out, I don’t think anyone expected this to be the third round match. Most people probably assumed it would be Stan Wawrinka and Fernando Verdasco playing for a spot in the Round of 16. After already having career-changing weeks, one of these two players will have the chance to take it one step further and reach the second week of a Grand Slam.
Tennys Sandgren has done well so far, defeating Jeremy Chardy and Stan Wawrinka in straight sets. Not to take anything away from Sandgren, but there were questions on Wawrinka’s health coming into the tournament. Healthy or not, beating a three-time Grand Slam champion like that will certainly raise a few eyebrows.
Sandgren was a decorated collegiate player at the University of Tennessee; in 2011 he reached the semifinals of the NCAA singles tournament and made the All-Southeastern Conference team. After turning pro in 2011, he’s spent most of his career playing Futures and Challengers. He’s had success on both levels, but until now hasn’t been able to translate that to wins at tour level events. After a run like this, he should be on the big stage for a little while now. Live rankings have him at about #80 in the world with a chance to be in the #70 range with a win over Marterer.
Even though Maximillian Marterer hadn’t won a tour level match coming in, his early success in 2018 shouldn’t come as that big of a surprise if you follow the Challenger tour. Marterer spent most of his 2017 season on the Challenger circuit, but it wasn’t until after the US Open that he started making a name for himself. Post-US Open he went 21-3, winning Challengers in Banja Luka, Monterrey, and Eckental. At the age of 22, it looks like 2018 might be shaping up to be the season that changes Marterer’s career.
Results like this at big events should inspire players who consistently play Challengers that they really are just one big breakthrough away from changing their career for the better. The winner of the Marterer-Sandgren match will have a total of 180 ranking points so far this week, which is more then you can receive for winning any Challenger. Regardless of the result, both players have set themselves up nicely for breakout seasons coming up.
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