We have seen siblings be successful on the tennis tours before. The Pliskova sisters were sensations on the junior tour before both becoming WTA Top 50 players, the McEnroe brothers, the Gulliksen brothers, Marat Safin and Dinara Safina, and, most famously and successfully, the Williams sisters dominated the WTA Tour in the not so distant past.
Now there is a new breed of brood. Francisco Cerundolo’s unexpected run to the Indian Wells semifinals could be the launching pad for his ATP career. The Argentinian is 23, so not a teenager like a Carlos Alcaraz or Emma Raducanu, but this is his first season branching out into the full ATP Tour. His semifinal match will be his 29th ATP main draw match in total, before this Sunshine Double he had played only four ATP events outside of South America.
Francisco & Juan Manuel Cerundolo
Despite this lack of experience outside familiar conditions, Francisco Cerundolo has looked at ease on the Miami courts. The abrasiveness of the surface probably helps slow down the harder groundstrokes and serves of some of his opponents and slots into his rhythm nicely. Not that Cerundolo himself is short on power, he can hit winners and his service hold rate on hard court is higher than the tour average. These are sound building blocks for a good career on the tour that the likes of Christian Garin, Juan Ignacio Londero, and Federico Coria, amongst many others, haven’t managed to achieve since finding success on the Golden Swing in South America.
One such player who won on the South American clay in 2021 was Juan Manuel Cerundolo, Francisco’s younger brother. Remarkably, the 2021 Cordoba Open was Juan Manuel’s first ever ATP tournament. Winning that title, as a qualifier, with a ranking of #335 shot the junior Cerundolo brother into the spotlight. Francisco went all the way to the final of Buenos Aires the following week, but unfortunately could not complete a historic sibling double.
Juan Manuel has struggled on his forays into the ATP Tour since his breakthrough, but has continued to ply his trade successfully on the ATP Challenger circuit, especially on clay. This has maintained his ranking in the low 100s and it will be interesting to see if he is able to translate that clay form into the European clay court season. He and Francisco may be players to watch on the forthcoming clay court swing.
Linda & Brenda Fruhvirtova
Another pair of siblings to keep an eye out for are the Fruhvirtova sisters. Linda Fruhvirtova, the elder sister at 16 years old, has caused a splash in this Miami event, reaching the fourth round and dumping out the likes of Victoria Azarenka and Elise Mertens on the way. Linda has a very mature game, choosing the correct shots and holding the requisite power and top spin to rally with and defeat some the best in the world on a slow hard court.
Whilst it is currently Linda’s turn in the limelight, Brenda Fruhvirtova, turning 15 on the 2nd April, had already signaled the intentions of the Fruhvirtovas to light up the women’s game. Brenda became the youngest ITF champion since 2015 when winning a 25k title in Argentina in February this year and was granted a wildcard into the WTA Abierto Zapopan qualifying draw. She promptly knocked out Sara Errani in her first match and qualified to play Sloane Stephens in the first round. Despite losing that match Brenda Fruhvirtova showed that she was not overawed to take on a top player. Stephens went on to win the title that week.
Between the Cerundolo brothers and the Fruhvirtova sisters there is a new wave of siblings that are keen to push each other to ever greater heights. It will be interesting to keep track of these potential new stars over 2022 and beyond.
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