A cheque for US$435 was the reward for Jerzy Janowicz when he
began his 2012 campaign by bombing out of a Futures
tournament in Glasgow at the hands of David Rice - the
world's 499th best tennis player.
Just 10 months later, the 22-year old Polish rising star
ended his season by going down to David Ferrer in the final
of Paris Masters, banking €234,865 for his troubles. Even by
professional tennis bust-and-boom standards, that's some
Janowicz's isn't your classic rags to riches story. True, he
sat out last year's Australian Open because he couldn't
afford the flights, but he doesn't exactly come from the mean
streets of Warsaw.
His parents, both former professional volleyball players,
have invested "at least a half million euros" in his
development. With Janowicz shooting up the rankings from 221
to 26 in the space of a season, that investment appears to
have hit paydirt.
The fifth seed at the Heineken Open next week, Janowicz took
the tennis world by the short and curlies and slapped it
around some at October's Paris Masters. Having battled
through qualifying, the then unknown dispatched five top 20
players - including reigning US Open Champion Andy Murray -
en route to the final.
His rise, he insists, was about more than just that one
remarkable tournament. He changed racquets and hired a new
fitness coach, and the results soon followed. Paris was the
end-game of a campaign that steadily built from back-to-back
Challenger Tour victories and a third round appearance at
"At the beginning of the year I didn't play good," he said
after completing a gruelling 30-hour flight to Auckland from
Warsaw. "At a $10,000 tournament in England I lost to a guy
ranked 600 (actually 499). But after a few months I got
better and I was in the third round at Wimbledon.
"The whole season was pretty good for me. The last tournament
in Paris was a little bit too much. I went to the final and
beat a few guys in the top 10, but for me it was a little bit
No surprise, really, that he couldn't deal with Heineken Open
top seed David Ferrer in Paris. Including qualifying, that
campaign was eight matches, most of them against the game's
Things should be a little easier in Auckland for the giant
Pole, who will enjoy the advantage of being seeded as he
attempts to acclimatise from the minus 15 degree temperatures
that froze Warsaw solid last week.
Janowicz has more to thank his parents for than the
significant lump of cash they put into his career. At 2.03m
and 91kg, he has seriously impressive genetics on his side.
Big head, big hands, big everything, really, is the way to
describe him. He has the game to match.
"My plus is that I am really quick, and it's not like I am
afraid of rallying from the baseline. For example, I am not
like [Ivo] Karlovic, he uses a lot of serve and volley. I'd
rather stay on the baseline and play from there."
While his goal in Auckland is modest - simply to play a
couple of matches and wring some rust out ahead of the
Australian Open - he would relish the prospect of a rematch
"As I said after the final in Paris, I would love to have
revenge against him. For sure, he's not an easy opponent, he
is one of the best players in the world. This is my first
tournament [of the year], so I don't know how it's going to
be. I hope I will survive a few matches and have the chance
to play against him.
"But if I lose in the first round, OK, I will practice for a
little bit and get used to the weather, maybe I will get a
chance to play against him at the Australian Open."
The way he's been tracking, Janowicz should get plenty more
chances against the very players.