In an atypical year due to the pandemic, where tennis had an interruption in its five-month calendar, the Mar del Plata player Horacio Zeballos achieved enough for his 2020 Be unforgettable. Since 2019, fully committed to the doubles modality of the ATP circuit, the 35-year-old left-hander obtained three titles with his partner the Spanish Marcel Granollers, arrived at 3rd. world ranking position, reached the record of Guillermo Vilas titles in doubles and, something historic, qualified for the first time in the London Masters Tournament.
After leaving the singles in January 2019 -a modality where he reached 39th in the ranking and where he obtained a single title, in Viña del Mar 2013 no less than Rafael Nadal-, Horacio put all his chips in doubles. After testing with different partners, It was in the Catalan Marcel Granollers where he found his best duo. In August 2019 they both successfully debuted at the Masters 1000 from Montreal, Canada, where champions were enshrined. Weeks later, they repeated the formula and the Mar del Plata reached his only Grand Slam final, at the US Open, where he was runner-up and entered the Top 10 doubles for the first time.
Granollers and Zeballos lift their ATP 500 trophy in Rio de Janeiro on February 23.
2020 was a successful continuation of this duo. “Onion” has plenty of reasons for a good end of the year toast. He played a total of 35 games distributed in 13 ATP tournaments, where he won 24 games and lost the remaining 11. With Granollers, he was champion of ATP 250 from Buenos Aires (against Argentines Guillermo Durán and Juan Londero) and ATP 500 from Rio de Janeiro (against Italians Salvatore Caruso and Federico Gaio) in continuous weeks of February; then it was runner-up in Kitzbuhel (Austria), and celebrated at the Masters 1000 in Rome, on September 20, after defeating the French Jeremy Chardy and Fabrice Martin 6-4, 5-7 and 10-8 in the final. Was the 16th career doubles title for Zeballos, who reached the record no less than his countryman Guillermo Vilas in achievements under this modality. The victory on Italian soil also allowed him to return to the top 3 of the world rankings, and left the pair one step away from the main objective: to qualify for the London Masters.
Celebration in Rome with the Masters 1000. Zeballos there reached the top 3 and reached the record for Vilas titles in doubles.
On October 19, the official ATP website confirmed that wish: Zeballos and Granollers became the fourth couple to qualify for the top tennis event of the year. The left-hander from Mar del Plata became the first Argentine to compete in doubles at the tournament since 2004, when Gastón Etlis and Martín Rodríguez did, and the fifth in the history of national tennis.
Zeballos and the Catalan Granollers at the London Masters.
At the O2 in London Zeballos and Granollers debuted with a win over locals John Peers and Michael Venus, 7-6 (2) and 7-5. Then, they prevailed against the Croatian Mate Pavic and the Brazilian Bruno Soares in a close game, 7-6 (4), 6-7 (4) and 10-8. In the last game of the group against Jurgen Melzer and Edouard Roger-Vasselin, already qualified for the semifinals, Granollers felt a discomfort in his shoulder and withdrew to avoid further problems. Qualified to the semifinals and with the Catalan physically handicapped, Zeballos and his partner were defeated by the Dutch Wesley Koolhof and the Croatian Nikola Mektic, eventually champions, 3-6 and 4-6.
2021 is coming and the challenge for Zeballos and his partner is to maintain the status they have gained so far as a duo. The first major stumbling block of the season will be the Australian Open, the first Grand Slam of the year.
The year of Horacio Zeballos
-Juice 35 doubles matches, with 24 triumphs and 11 defeats.
-Get 3 titles, all together with Marcel Granollers:
-February 16th: champions of ATP 250 from Buenos Aires, “Argentina Open”. They beat Argentines Guillermo Durán and Juan Londero by 6-4 in the final; 5-7 and 18-16.
-23 of February: champions of ATP 500 of Río de Janeiro, against the Italians Salvatore Caruso and Federico Gaio (6-4, 5-7, 10-7).
-September 20: champions of Masters 1000 de Roma, after defeating the French Jeremy Chardy and Fabrice Martin by 6-4, 5-7 and 10-8 in the final.
-In Italy, it reached the 16 titles in doubles, reaching the record of Guillermo Vilas.
-Runner-up in Kitzbuhel, Austria (ATP 250): loss to Americans Austin Krajicek and local Franko Skugor.
-Oct 19, qualifying for the London Masters for the first time: eliminated with Granollers injured in the semifinals.
-Play the 3 Grand Slams of the year (Wimbledon was the only one suspended due to the pandemic): Australia (eliminated in the second round against the Americans Rajeev Ram and the British Joe Salisbury); Roland Garros (eliminated in the round of 16 against Jamie Murray and Neal Skupskl) and US Open (loss in the first round against Croatian Mate Pavic and Brazilian Bruno Soeares).
-Other tournaments: ATP 250 from Córdoba (eliminated in the second round), ATP 500 from Acapulco (knocked down in the second round), ATP Bogotá (loss in the first round), Masters 1000 from Cincinnati (eliminated in the quarterfinals, resumption of tennis in pandemic), Masters 1000 from Paris ( drop in eighths).
I shared this note