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2013's First Time Winners: Part 1

Best of 2013

Mahut© AFP/Getty ImagesNicolas Mahut won two ATP World Tour singles title in 2013.

Eight players on the ATP World Tour earned their first titles in 2013. At the time of their victories, they ranged in age from 20 to 31. Below are stories of four of those men and how they fared for the rest of the season.

Bernard Tomic – Sydney [Tomic Spotlight]
The 6’5” Tomic began 2013 with a bold statement, winning his first ATP World Tour title against Kevin Anderson at the Apia International Sydney. The 6-3, 6-7(2), 6-3 battle made the 20 year old the youngest player to win a title since his idol, Roger Federer, did so in Hamburg 2002 (d. Safin). "He’s an inspiration, not just to me, but to a lot of people out there," said Tomic about Federer.

After the victory, the congratulatory texts poured in ("about 35 after like two minutes"), adding to the elation of Australian. "It’s an amazing feeling and now I know what it feels like, it’s one of the greatest feelings in the world, holding a trophy and winning a title. Hopefully I can win many more."

Tomic made two other quarter-finals appearances – Marseille (l. to Tsonga) and Eastbourne (l. to Simon) – and reached the fourth round at Wimbledon (l. to Berdych). Tomic ended the season as the No. 1 Australian, at World No. 51, ahead of Lleyton Hewitt (No. 60), Marinko Matosevic (No. 61) and Matthew Ebden (No. 68).

Horacio Zeballos – Vina del Mar [Zeballos Spotlight]
Argentine Horacio Zeballos picked up his first ATP World Tour title by toppling Rafael Nadal at the VTR Open in one of the biggest upsets of 2013. Nadal looked on track to hoist the trophy in his comeback event, nary a sign of rust after an eight-month injury layoff. But Zeballos would take down the 11-time Grand Slam champion for his maiden title and his first win against a Top 10 player.

“It's a dream for me,” said Zeballos. “To be able to play a final against Nadal was already good enough for me. It's a moment that will stay in my memory for the rest of my life.”

Then 27 years old, Zeballos joined an elite group with his 6-7(2), 7-6(6), 6-4 victory; Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic are the only other players to beat Nadal in a clay-court final.

Zeballos would go on to reach the quarter-finals in Acapulco and Umag and bookend his 2013 season with titles on the ATP Challenger Tour from Sao Paulo and Lima. In doubles, Zeballos partned with Uruguay’s Pablo Cuevas to reach the semi-finals at Roland Garros (l. to Llodra/Mahut).

Lukas Rosol – Bucharest [Rosol Spotlight]
The player who famously ousted Rafael Nadal at Wimbledon in 2012 won his maiden title at the BRD Nastase Tiriac Trophy in Bucharest. The 27-year-old Lukas Rosol beat Spain’s Guillermo Garcia-Lopez 6-3, 6-2 and dedicated this career milestone to his father, who had passed away 10 days prior.

“I wanted to dedicate this trophy to someone, so I found the energy,” said Rosol. “I felt somebody was helping me from up top. It’s not just about me. My family has always supported me and my tennis. I felt match after match, my dream was coming true."

Rosol reached a career-high No. 33 in the Emirates ATP Rankings in May and finished the year at No. 47 as the third-ranked Czech behind Tomas Berdych and Radek Stepanek. Rosol’s 2013 also included a semi-final appearance in Vienna (l. to Haas) and quarter-finals in Zagreb (l. to Melzer) and St. Petersburg (l. to Przysiezny).

Rosol won rubbers in the Czech Republic’s Davis Cup quarter-final tie against Kazakhstan, contributing to the team's defence of their World Group trophy. He also earned his second doubles crown, with Romania’s Florin Mergea, at the Erste Bank Open in Vienna.

Nicolas Mahut - 's-Hertogenbosch [Mahut Spotlight]
Frenchman Nicolas Mahut is one of two players over 30 years of age to win their first ATP World Tour titles in 2013 (the other: Carlos Berlocq). The 31-year-old Mahut downed Stanislas Wawrinka 6-3, 6-4 at the Topshelf Open in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, capping off a week-long run during which the 6’3” Angers native won 46 of 47 service games.

"It had been my goal for a long time to win a title. Six months ago I didn’t know if I would be able to play professional tennis again and here I am with the trophy," said Mahut, referring to the knee injury that sidelined his career. "I worked hard to get here and it means a lot to me."

This was Mahut’s third appearance in a final, with the other two coming in 2007, also on grass. Mahut was the second qualifier in 2013 to win an ATP World Tour title (Ernests Gulbis won Delray Beach). At No. 240, Mahut was the lowest-ranked player to triumph since World No. 244 Kei Nishikori at Delray Beach in March 2008.

Mahut went on to win another singles title, the Hall of Fame Tennis Championships in Newport, beating Lleyton Hewitt 5-7, 7-5, 6-3.

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