Photo: Susan MullaneFilp Peliwo (CAN)
Last year, Canada’s Filip Peliwo became the first player to reach the final at all four junior slams in a calendar year since Australian Mark Kratzmann in 1984, winning titles at Wimbledon and the US Open. Named ITF Junior World Champion for his efforts, the 19-year-old Vancouver native is now concentrating on translating his junior success to the professional tour. In the third of a five-part blog series for ITF Juniors, Peliwo talks us through his Grand Slam qualifying debut at 2013 Wimbledon and the thrill of leaping a mighty 154 spots in the rankings over the last two weeks.
I made my Grand Slam qualifying debut this summer at Wimbledon qualifying in Roehampton and it was awesome to be a part of it. I was really happy with the way I played. Winning a match [defeating Bradley Klahn 62 16 97 in the first round] was great and to be able to take [No. 6 seed] Denis Kudla to three sets in the second round was also a good experience. It showed me that I’m playing well and I’m on the right track. All I had to do was improve a couple of things and I wasn’t far off making the last round of qualifying or even qualifying at my first attempt.
To see that I’m able to do well right away if I put my game together decently gives me a lot of confidence because I still feel like I have a lot of room to improve. A year from now if I’m ranked high enough to gain automatic entry into qualifying, or even be seeded in qualies (whatever my ranking may be), this first experience gives me something to look back on. I’ll be able to draw on it in terms of what the level is and how I should play next time. It was an extremely invaluable experience.
Some people might be tempted to get advice from other players at a Grand Slam qualifying event but I definitely didn’t go out of my way to talk to other people. First of all you don’t really want to bother other players too much as I don’t know that many of the other players except from the Canadian guys and a few of the pros here and there. Instead I just focussed on my tennis because I wanted to do well - getting tips from too many people can sometimes confuse the issue. It was just about keeping things as simple as possible and not getting too much information from the other guys.
I’ve made a big leap in the rankings over the last couple of weeks after some good Challenger results [climbing 73 spots after making the quarterfinals at Granby and a further 81 places to a career-high No. 353 with a semifinal finish at Lexington]. I’ve been working hard to make a jump like that all year. I lost a few points in March so it didn’t feel like I was making any jumps and even after good results I was still trying to claw my way back towards my old ranking. Jumping 150 spots higher than my career-best ranking is something that really gets me excited because it shows me that I’m making big progress from last year, and that’s after just one or two tournaments.
I still have quite a few big tournaments left this summer and while I’m not expecting to have too many great results, I don’t want to put pressure on myself, I’m confident that I can do well and hopefully keep those extra points coming. The summer is a busy schedule for me. There’s a lot of Challengers coming up, plus the Rogers Cup in Montreal and a bunch of 15k tournaments so I definitely think I can move my ranking up a lot if I can keep my head together and keep my game going.
I’m trying not to check my ranking each week because I end up focussing on that more than the match in hand, but I do have some ranking goals that I’m aiming for. I’m trying not to set goals for the end of the summer because that’s focussing too much on a few specific tournaments, but by the end of the year I’d like to be Top 300, preferably Top 250 so I can make the qualies at the Australian Open and the next three slams, but if I finished in the Top 300 I’d be happy about that.
The Rogers Cup [which starts on August 5] is a really good opportunity for me. I think I’m going to get a wild card into qualifying, and if I play well I think I can make a lot more points than if I got a main draw wild card where I’d probably end up getting a guy like Federer in the first round! Even winning one match in qualifying would give me quite a good boost.
Peliwo talks Canadian tennis, Davis Cup and facing down Milos Raonic's serve in his next blog on Wednesday 7 August