Latin American players are often overlooked when it comes to the big tennis tournaments, but the truth is that they have a lot to offer on the big stage.
Juan Martin Del Potro has led the way for aspiring stars for over a decade, especially after defeating Roger Federer in the 2009 US Open final. However, his recent career has been blighted by injuries and it looks like his glory days might be behind him.
This begs the question: who can step up and be the contender for his crown? There’s plenty of talent out there, maybe one of the following can be the next Latin American tennis superstar.
Garín is something of a clay specialist. All of his four ATP tour titles have been on clay, culminating in an impressive Rio Open triumph in February 2020. The victory marked a period of extraordinary momentum for the player, who had been stringing tournament wins together to carve 18th place out for himself in the ATP rankings.
Garín has form, of course. He’s the youngest Chilean to ever win a top-level ATP match, being just 16 years old when he beat Dušan Lajović in 2013, and he lifted the Junior French Open in the same year.
He’s only the sixth Chilean man ever to reach the world top 20, and if he adapts his agile playing style and thunderous forehand to a non-clay surface then the sky’s the limit for the 23-year-old.
Considered by many to be the hot favourite to take Del Potro’s crown, Schwartzman is known as El Peque(the little one), although his 5’7″ frame hasn’t stopped him from climbing up the rankings. By spring 2020, he had earned a cool $8 million in career prize money–enough to mark him out as a top player.
Part of the reason for Schwartzman’s bumper earnings are his Grand Slam appearances: the US Open for example, pays each player $54,000 just for playing in the tournament. Like how a casino might give a welcome bonus to new members, this is more down to making the player feel special rather than a reward for his playing ability, but it helps to add to an impressive pot of money.
His career highlight was his display at the US Open 2019. After storming through the opening rounds, he set up a quarter-final tie with Rafael Nadal. Unfortunately for him, it wasn’t to be, with the Spaniard sweeping him aside in straight sets.
He will surely have learned from the experience, though, and it will be tempting to back him to reach the final in the next Grand Slam he plays in.
Thiago Seyboth Wild
Seyboth Wild marked himself out as one to watch with a brilliant US Open junior title in 2018 and since then he’s pushed on to challenge for the World ATP top 100; a big achievement for someone who only recently turned 20 years old.
While fellow Brazilian Thiago Monteiro is a more established pro – himself a top 100 player – many consider Seyboth Wild to have the potential to achieve remarkable things within the game. He underlined this with his first ATP tour victory in the 2020 Chilean Open, impressing the audience with his mature playing style and powerful double-handed backhand.
The young star became the first tennis pro to contract the Coronavirus shortly after; but he soon recovered, and vowed to his fans that he would come back stronger than ever following the crisis.
Hailing from Santiago de Chile, Jarry has been regarded as one of the hopes of Latin American tennis for a few years now. He comes from a professional lineage, with both his grandfather and great-uncle being former pros, and his 1.98m height means he often towers over opponents.
The player’s prodigious talent catapulted him up to an ATP world ranking of 38 in the summer of 2019, after winning the Swedish Open with his aggressive, high-risk style of play.
Unfortunately, Jarry’s short career was hit with controversy in April 2020 after he received an 11-month ban for testing positive to steroids in the previous year. While a big blow to the player, it is likely he won’t lose too much ground on fellow pros who can’t compete anyway due to the Covid-19 crisis. Also, he’ll be looking at the likes of Marin Cilic, who used his own experience as motivation to win a Grand Slam following a ban.
María Camila Osorio Serrano
18-year-old Osorio Serrano is making waves in her home country Colombia. Her Junior US Open win in 2019 placed her as world number 1, and there are high hopes that she can transfer her talent to the adult game.
The early signs are good. Osorio Serrano is already one of the highest-ranked Latin American players, and her few Tour performances have offered promising signs.
While an outside bet to be the next Latin American to land a Grand Slam, her ability and winning mentality mark her out as one to watch over the next decade.
A Grand Slam victory is often the pinnacle of a tennis player’s career and only a select few ever taste such success. While a Latin American hasn’t enjoyed this privelige since Del Potro’s legendary win in 2009, the talent is there for this to happen once again over the next few years.