In September 2005, Robby Ginepri was supposed to be the next great American tennis player. Unseeded, he had just reached the semifinals of the U.S. Open. Ginepri finished the year ranked 15th in the world. The sleeveless shirts and backwards hats dotted with the Under Armour insignia were to become fixtures on the ATP Tour.
Step aside Sampras and Agassi, a new generation had come. Or had it?
Following his breakout 2005 season, Ginepri’s serve became his greatest enemy. His service games were easy to break. His first serve percentage began to hover around 50 percent, while his lack of power on the second serve was even worse. Therefore, Ginepri’s best grand slam result in 2006 was a disappointing third-round U.S. Open loss to Germany’s Tommy Haas.
2007 was more of the same for Ginepri. He only reached the third round at Flushing Meadows. He ended the season ranked Number 134. Last year, the American appeared to be on the verge of a rebound. Ginepri earned an Olympic selection and improved to Number 59 in the world. However, this season he was hospitalized with appendicitis, and his struggles on the court returned. His 2009 record before this week was a mere 4-13. Ginepri had not even won back-to-back matches in months!
Last week, the Indianapolis Tennis Championships began. Ginepri had won the tournament in 2005, his second career ATP title. The field was weak but filled with Americans, including John Isner and Sam Querrey. Ginepri won his first round match easily, but stumbled against Eduardo Schwank in the following round. In three grueling sets, the American prevailed.
In the quarterfinals and the semifinals, Ginepri handled unseeded countrymen Alex Bogomolov Jr. and Isner, respectively. In the final, Ginepri faced off against Querrey, the tournament’s third seed, who had not dropped a set throughout the tournament. However, Sunday belonged to Ginepri, as the 26-year-old won his third career ATP title in straight sets.
With the victory, Ginepri’s confidence to compete at an elite level apparently returned. The pressure of being considered the next elite player or even a “one tournament wonder” no longer looms over the American’s head. It appears that low expectations bring out the best Ginepri, now 56th ranked player in the world.
As an unseeded player at the upcoming U.S. Open, Ginepri hopes to recreate the success he experienced four years ago at Flushing Meadows.