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Rising Czech Tennis Star Jakub Mensik: From Student to Sensation

Czech tennis player Jakub Mensik (REUTERS/Ciro De Luca)

Jakub Mensik (Czech Republic, 2005) is preparing the final exams that will end his time as a student. The emergence he has had in tennis, reaching his first ATP 250 final in Doha and becoming the youngest tennis player to do so – since Carlos Alcaraz achieved it in Umag 2021 – has led to him having to give up any possibility of going to University. The truth is that, on the professional circuit, he is not doing bad at all. He defeated Alejandro Davidovich, Andy Murray, Andrey Rublev and Gael Monfils, and this Saturday (16:00 CET) he will face Karen Khachanov, who owns six ATP titles, in the final.

The season has just begun, but without a doubt his name resonates as one of the sensations to take into account this year. Just by being in the final he has managed to get into the Top-100, being the youngest tennis player among them. The Czech did not know how far he was capable of going, or achieving. In fact, he acknowledged that what motivated him to register for the ATP 250 Doha was because “they gave me a free iPhone.” Thanks to that free mobile, he has secured a rise of 30 positions to virtually occupy number 86, although if he wins he will climb to position 75. Be that as it may, he can now opt to play major tournaments without having to play the previous phase.

Before defeating Monfils in three sets, he defeated the fifth seed and Spaniard, Davidovich, got rid of the former world number 1, Andy Murray and added his first victory against a Top-5 against Andrey Rublev. “I feel great to have reached my first ATP final. I have no words,” he said after the game, confessing that he had grown up watching his rivals on television, and now, he was the protagonist himself.

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What a TALENT ????

The moment Jakub Mensik in only his 3rd tour-level event reaches his first ATP Tour final ????#QatarExxonMobilOpen pic.twitter.com/AfO0OkxqIF

Tennis TV (@TennisTV) February 23, 2024

The Sparta Prague Open 2023 was Mensik’s first Challenger. He defeated Dominik Koepfer, becoming the youngest Czech champion in history at just 17 years old. His next tournament was the US Open, where he managed to eliminate Fabio Fognini, Leandro Riedi and Zdenek Kolar to sneak into the main draw of the Slam. One day before turning 18 he beat Titouan Droguet, but he couldn’t against Taylor Fritz.

He began 2024 by qualifying for the main draw of the Australian Open, and managed to defeat a Top-10 player like Denis Shapovalov. This allowed him to climb to 127th place. He failed against Hubert Hurkacz (number 9) in the second round. Now, he is concentrating on trying to win his first ATP title in what will be his first final as a professional.

While the figures are already striking on their own, the tie break records draw even more attention. In 2023 he played a total of 22, winning 17 of them. As a professional, the balance is 27-6, of which in Doha alone, he has won four of the five he has played. “Thanks to my mental coach I enjoy the pressure. When there are tie breaks I feel comfortable because I can apply my mental strength and concentration techniques, I feel very competitive in these types of scenarios,” the young man confessed.

Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic and Czech Jakub Mensik during one of their joint training sessions (Networks)

Novak Djokovic could not compete on Australian soil due to his refusal to be vaccinated against the coronavirus. In fact, he was even detained when he landed in Melbourne. Devastated by not being able to play one of his favorite tournaments and one of those with the most titles (10 in total), he was delighted with Mensik’s performance in the junior Grand Slam.

He faced Bruno Kuzhara, starring in the longest junior final of the tournament with a duration of three hours and 43 minutes. He did not win the title, but due to his physical effort he finished the match without being able to stand due to cramps. This caught the attention of Novak, who did not hesitate to invite him to train with him. “It was in 2022. He invited me first in Belgrade and then in Montenegro to spend a few days training with him and also doing off-court routines,” recalled Mensik, who is completely grateful: “I started playing tennis because of him and he is my idol. Without him, I wouldn’t be here right now.”

2024-02-24 12:13:00
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