Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Players to Watch in 2012: Javier Marti (’92)

The young Spaniard has been steadily improving his ranking since he entered the pro ranks. He finished 857 in 2008, 688 in 2009 and 322 in 2010. This year, he reached a career high of 181 early November before finishing the year at 184. It was a very impressive season by Marti, who started the year playing futures and closed it giving Jo-Wilfred Tsonga all he could handle at ATP Valencia’s first round.

Marti, who much like Nadal went straight to the pros without playing at the ITF level, finished the year with a 44-26 record. That included 3 futures titles (Spain F1, Poland F7 and Croatia F13). He also took part in another 2 future finals. He started featuring regularly at the Challenger level and even qualified for some ATP main draws. The highlight of his year was defeating American Ryan Harrison (’92), who finished the year at 79 in the world, to make the main draw at Roland Garros. Playing on his maiden Grand Slam match, Marti went down fighting as he lost a 5-setter to fellow Spaniard Albert Ramos.

The 5’9 wonder kid lodged significant victories over players considered to be better and more experienced than him at this point of his career. Besides taking out Harrison in Paris, Marti defeated former top 100 Eduardo Schwank (Argentina), and compatriot Daniel Gimeno-Traver (at an ATP in grass nonetheless) among others. Moreover, like I mentioned before, he took a set out of Tsonga before losing 46 75 62 in what would be the last match of his season.

I expect Marti to never step foot on a futures tournament again, while becoming a terror at the countless clay court Challenger tournaments around the world. I would be shocked if he didn’t crack the top 100 by the end of the year. I see Marti winning his first Challenger title and his first Grand Slam match. Moreover, now that Nadal, Verdasco, Ferrer and Lopez decided to skip Davis Cup duties in 2012, I expect Marti to make the team if Spain makes it deep into the draw.

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