Among the eight quarterfinalists at the Millenium Estoril Open, two qualifiers may be unkown to the casual ATP fans. It is not the first, but it is also likely not the last time Joao Domingues performs at home well above his year-round level. Since 2017, the Portuguese is 7-2 against foes ranked waaaaaay higher than him, boasting wins over the likes of Kyle Edmund or Alex de Miñaur. It’s worth noting than one of Domingues’ two losses came in a 57 63 75 thriller versus two-time Slam finalist Kevin Anderson. Stefanos Tsitsipas better beware:
Thanos Domingues is no slouch. However, it’s the other surprising quarterfinalist who’s likely to go on many more deep runs throughout his career. Alejandro Davidovich Fokina is here to stay.
The 19-year-old earned headlines after lifting the 2017 Wimbledon Boys’ trophy. Son of a Russian mom and a Swedish dad, Davidovich’s game vastly differs from the stereotypical Spanish style. In an interview he conceded to Punto de Break, he claimed to have made over 90 drop shots back in a 14 & under event. Besides, he has deployed the underarm serve several times.
In the same conversation, Davidovich affirmed he intends not only to take the tour by storm but also to be a regular of the highlight compilations. He is a proud admirer of unconventional players such as Nick Kyrgios, Fabio Fognini or Alexandr Dolgopolov.
“I played Nishikori and Djokovic. He’s hitting the ball like them.”
Nevertheless, the kid can rip it from the baseline. No wonder Taylor Fritz compared his average rally ball to Novak Djokovic’s or Kei Nishikori’s during their match in Estoril, according to journalist Jose Morgado. Davidovich admitted on several occasions he models his game after the current world No. 1 but he won’t stop unleashing his “internal craziness” anytime soon. He is a firm believer than being somewhat messy and unpredictable gives him an edge on key points.
The Spanish prospect, under the tutelage of coach Jorge Aguirre and his personal psychologist, has made huge strides in keeping his once terrific outbursts in check lately. Consequently, his results have improved. He entered the Australian Open ranked No. 241 and, in a matter of four months, the Malaga native has jumped almost 100 spots. Prior to his Estoril quarterfinal matchup against Gael Monfils, his live ranking stands at No. 146.
Davidovich’s resiliency has been remarkable this campaign so far. Only three of his nine losses came in straight sets. Two of them arrived at the hands of tour regulars Phillip Kohlschreiber (76 75) and Albert Ramos (75 75). In those two matches, he squandered 12 and 10 break points, respectively. He always manufactures a way to remain in a match, making it hardly impossible to blow him off the court.
Back in December, Davidovich issued a warning by winning the Master Futuro Nacional, an unofficial U-23 Spanish Championship held at Rafa Nadal Academy. 15-year-old phenom Carlos Alcaraz, current No. 55 Jaume Munar, and No. 245 Bernabe Zapata all received a severe defeat in consecutive days. Maybe Davidovich wasn’t a year or two away from making real noise on tour, was he?
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