24 Oct 2017

2017 ITF Junior Masters: Who's who

News Article

Photo: Arata YamaokaAxel Geller (ARG)

In the build up to this year’s ITF Junior Masters, we are introducing the players who will compete in Chengdu. Our latest article takes a closer look at Axel Geller of Argentina.

Geller began his junior career in impressive style. As a 15-year-old, he received a wildcard into a Grade 5 event in Argentina in September 2014 and won his opening match 60 60. Another straight-sets win followed and the Argentinian then won three consecutive three-set matches to reach the final. The final proved a step too far but the performance was a sign of things to come.

He reached the semifinals in his second tournament, and then in December 2014, Geller had his first taste of success. At another Grade 5, this time in Uruguay, Geller dropped just one set en route to the title match. In the final, he dropped the opener but battled back to clinch the second set. The deciding set went to a tiebreak, and Geller showed mental strength to clinch it 7-4 and earn his first title.

He had to wait until October 2015 to claim his next title, but won back-to-back tournaments in Buenos Aires which saw his ranking greatly increase. At the start of 2016, he entered his first Grade 1 tournament at the Copa Barranquilla in Colombia, and reached the third round in ingles and second round in doubles.

A week later, Geller contested his second Grade 1, this time in Ecuador. He came through qualifying to reach the first round of singles but could advance no further. The doubles, however, was a different story. Playing alongside fellow Argentine Valentino Caratini lifted the title without dropping a set for Geller’s first Grade 1 trophy.

In March 2016, he contested his first Grade A tournament at the Campeonato Internacional Juvenil de Tenis de Porto Alegre, but fell in the opening round of singles in three sets to Nicola Kuhn and the second round in doubles. After that outing, Geller only played one more tournament in 2016 as injury forced him out for much of the second half of the season.

His first title in 2017 came in January. Having fallen in the third round at his first two events, he lifted the trophy at a Grade 1 in Ecuador, his first singles title at that level. He competed at Porto Alegre again in February, and improved on his first performance, reaching the third round in singles and the quarterfinals in doubles.

Following that outing, Geller reached a series of Grade 1 finals, before playing at the Trofeo Bonfiglio in Milan, his next Grade A event. He fell in an extremely close match 67(6) 76(5) 64 to Alexei Popyrin in the second round, but went on to lift the doubles title playing alongside Colombian Nicolas Mejia.

In June, Geller competed at a Junior Grand Slam for the first time, at Roland Garros. He fell in the opening round of singles but reached the quarterfinals of the doubles, again playing with Mejia.

In July, he competed on grass for the first time at the Nike Junior Axel Geller (ARG)International in Roehampton, where he won the title. At his second grasscourt event, Junior Wimbledon, he reached the singles final, taking down No. 1 seed Corentin Moutet in the semifinals. The title proved a step too far as he lost to Spaniard Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, but a trophy was still a possibility as he had also reached the doubles final. Playing alongside Hsu Yu Hsiou, who also competes in Chengdu this week, the pair took down Michael Vrbensky and Jurij Rodionov, also appearing at this year’s Junior Masters, in the final.

Buoyed by this success, Geller was a force to be reckoned with at the Junior US Open in September. He reached his second Grand Slam final behind a powerful game, only dropping one set along the way. In the final he came up against Wu Yibing, the world No. 1 and top seed at this year’s ITF Junior Masters. In a close match, Wu prevailed, handing Geller a second defeat in a Junior Grand Slam final.

Geller made his professional debut as a 16-year-old when he was handed a wildcard into qualifying at the Buenos Aires Challenger (ARG), but fell in the second round of qualifying.

He recorded back-to-back wins on the professional circuit for the first time in May this year. At a Futures event in Florida, Geller came through four rounds of qualifying without coming close to losing a set. He earned a three-set opening round win against Philip Bester and went on to reach the quarterfinals, eventually falling in three sets to Felipe Mantilla.

The 2017 ITF Junior Masters will take place at the Sichuan International Tennis Center in Chengdu, China on 25-29 October.