By Mark Skendaris
Last Monday, American Robby Ginepri’s career slumped to a new low, losing in the first round of qualifying at the
Ginepri was not granted a wildcard into the main draw of this event which may have surprised many, but it seems to be the right decision.
‘Neps’ was awarded a wildcard into the main draw of Indian Wells last week, losing in three sets to Italian scrapper Andreas Seppi. He has a 1-5 win-loss record this year and his current poor form suggests his next win may not come for some time.
At the start of the year, Ginepri was ranked just inside the top 100. Many onlookers thought with a solid off-season and an injury-free run, the American was poised to become a threat again in the men’s game.
He started off in Chennai with an unbelievable result. In the first round he played a wonderful match to upset current World No. 7 Robin Soderling. The Swede is currently one of the hottest players on the ATP World Tour and that win was sure to lift his confidence to play consistent tennis. That was his last win of the season.
As we have come to know, Ginepri can disappoint as quickly as he can impress. He was beaten by unheralded Slovak Lukas Lacko in round two and since then he has been knocked out in the first round of his next four tournaments. His loss to Jan Hajek in the Australian Open was a disaster, slumped shoulders and smashing racquets was not a good look. More defeats to Ricardas Berankis in San Jose, Yen-Hsun Lu in Memphis and Seppi in Indian Wells doesn’t read well for the once-hardened grinder.
The American turned pro in 2001 and had a solid career until 2005, his breakout season. In July, he won his second title in Indianapolis and a week later reached the semi-finals of an ATP Masters 1000 tournament for the first time in Cincinnati. His run was eventually ended by World No. 1
His American summer hardcourt record was 14-3 when he arrived two weeks later at the U.S Open as an unseeded player. After winning his first two matches, Ginepri put together a string of stirring five set wins. He defeated Tommy Haas in the third round, Richard Gasquet in the fourth round and Guillermo Coria in the quarterfinals. He then lost a five set marathon to Andre Agassi in the semi-finals 6-4, 5-7, 6-3, 4-6, 6-3. Ginepri was the first player in the open era to play four consecutive five-set matches at the U.S Open. After this supreme effort, he became a respected pro among players and fans as a guy who would never give in. He continued that amazing run in November at the Madrid Masters, making another semi-final before losing to eventual champion Rafael Nadal 7-6, 7-5 in a tight contest.
He finished 2005 at World No. 15 in the ATP Rankings, the highest ranking of his career.
Since then Ginepri has not been as successful on the tour. In 2006 he lost in the second round of the Australian Open and the first round of both the French Open and Wimbledon. At the U.S Open, he lost in the third round and finished the year ranked World No. 51. In 2007 he lost in the third round of both the Australian Open and the U.S Open and the first round of both the French Open and Wimbledon. He finished the year ranked World No. 134.
The next two seasons have not produced many highs, although he seemed to be back on track by defeating Sam Querrey in the 2009 final of the Indianapolis tournament. But bad results continue to halt his ranking, currently at 108. It does not do justice to his ability.
The 27-year-old still has the game to be a top tennis professional. Ginepri’s game is based around his fitness and work ethic. His mental attitude can fall away if things aren’t going well and that is what is being questioned at the moment. It is time for him to return to the challenger scene, become hungry for victories and be ready to out-grind his opponents. Wins put together with a stronger mindset means ‘Neps’ will be a feared player on tour once again.