So the last two Players to Watch in this series were both lefties, eh? I say we continue this non-righty, rockin’ roll and feature our third straight southpaw!
Folks, our next PTW has a massive amount of tennistical history, even though he’s only 17 years old. (Witness this article from World Tennis Magazine three years ago that presciently proclaimed “Remember The Name!” when he was merely fourteen.)
He’s had a scholarship to the Nick Bollettieri Academy since he was eight years old. He qualified for his first Futures tourney in 2010 at age fourteen, though it was another year before he’d win a main draw Futures match at the ripe old age of 15 (a practical geezer). Along the way, he took a set off of then 22-year-old and current Top 100 Challenger Tour Finals finalist Alejandro Gonzalez.
If you haven’t guessed it already (and even if you have), our sixth Player to Watch for 2014 is none other than Italian Gianluigi Quinzi.
When he wasn’t coming up just short against guys almost twice his age in the Futures (like then-26-year-old Guillermo “The Hormdog” Hormazabal), he was keeping up a perfect record against guys three years older in the ITF 18s junior tourneys, taking four straight Caribbean Grade 5 events before totally titling at the ITF Grade 2 Uruguay Bowl in March of 2011.
He had some growing pains (most likely literally) for the rest of 2011, before really starting to assert himself last year as a 16-year-old in 2012. At the Italy F9 in May of that year, playing someone literally twice his age, he claimed his best-ranked scalp to date, topping off then-#220-in-the-world Victor Estrella.
He made the Round of 16 at the Roland Garros junior event, losing to PTW #3 Kyle Edmund in a tough three-setter, before making a run to the semis of the Boys tourney at Wimbledon, losing to top-seeded Luke Saville (but smacking Nick Kyrgios 6-3 6-1 along the way).
He then lost in the quarters of the US Open lads’ (but beat PTW #1 Borna Coric in the 2nd round) and finished off the year playing Futures at a 19/8 clip, making five semis and one final. He also swatted it around some with some goofy looking dude who likes to beat up on PTWs, which may or may not be of some consequence. (If I was forced to guess, I’d say: “Not.”)
2013 was a very active, auspicious year for the spunky southpaw from Cittadella. He bounced between juniors and pros, with a 29/6 record and a shiny Wimbledon trophy to show for his boys campaign…
…and a 28/17 record on the men’s side — including his elusive first pro title, attained in May at the Morocco F1 Futures. “It was amazing,” said Quinzi, of winning a pro event. “I was tight because I was little nervous in the final.” (Funnily enough, my number one reason for being tight is because I’m nervous too — we’re so similar, Gianluke and I.)
Throw in a quarterfinal run at the Porto Alegre Challenger (beating 6 seeded ATP #129 Gastao Elias in the first round) and a semifinal showing in Guayaquil, and it all adds up a pretty decent season, I’d say.
I did the math for you, and have determined his overall record was 57/23 on the year, which is a winning clip of 71.3%. He rose 255 places in the rankings since the start of 2013, and currently sits at #321 in the ATP singles rankings.
So, results aside, what kind of guy is this dude, you may be wondering. “He’s half-Italian, half-American. He likes sports, music and he likes to speak, speak, speak.” says his dad, Luka. Indeed, his foot’s already strayed mouthward as this summer he impetuously insinuated that Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer might be doping. This kid’s not only a player to watch, but also one to listen to (
even especially if he sometimes spouts nonsense).
“I don’t like to practice a lot — that’s a problem,” he tells us in the below video before ultimately assuring us (or himself), “But I have to do it because it is my work – not my hobby, but my work.” (He also assures us he was very very good at skiing, in a humblebrag distinctly lacking in humility.)
As you can see, the guy is full of personality (and possibly other stuff*). Plus he makes bitter beer faces when he’s thinking — what’s not to like?
On court, he’s an aggressive baseliner with a whippy forehand and a compact, flat (though occasionally slappy) backhand. He needs to improve on his movement some and his serve most of all, so he can get the maximum mileage from those sinister sidewinders.
Former world #4 Andres Gomez compares him to a young Juan Martin del Potro, which I *completely* disagree with, as much as I love Gogo.
You can see entire matches of his on the YouTube (and most of his winning Wimbledon run), but I’m kind of partial to this vid of Quinzi playing Frederico Gil at the Rome Challenger — mostly because some enterprising soul attempted to extract all between-point malingering so that you can watch the entire three-set affair in under 30 minutes. I appreesh.
It’ll be lots of fun to see how he plays (and what he says) in 2014!
*Food! I was talking about food, since he talks about his love of eating in the video. Why, what did you think I meant?