Ellis Continues Aussie Assault In Challengers
There is a new star emerging in Australian tennis. After reaching the semi-finals in just his fourth ATP Challenger Tour event, at the Shimadzu Kyoto Challenger, 19-year-old Blake Ellis has plenty of cause for optimism.
The Brisbane native showcased his fighting quality in Kyoto, with three consecutive three-set wins over Japanese opposition before falling to top seed John Millman in the last four. Ellis is now one of four Aussie teenagers inside the Top 600 of the ATP Rankings, having risen 164 spots to a new career-high No. 510 in the ATP Rankings on Monday.
But don’t let that ranking fool you. Embarking on what he hopes to be his first full season as a professional, he is ready to take the next step on the Challenger circuit.
“It was an amazing week,” Ellis told ATPWorldTour.com. “I had a great week with some great wins, so I really enjoyed it. It was my first tournament I've played indoors as well.
“It gives me a great deal of confidence, to match up with those players who are in the Top 200. I have to take that into next week in Yokohama and throughout the year.”
The young Australian has great support as he continues his quest to climb up the ATP Rankings, with former World No. 11 doubles player Wayne Arthurs in his corner. Arthurs won 12 ATP World Tour doubles titles between 1994 and 2005 before retiring two years later.
“We started working together a couple years ago and he's been trying to implement his great serve-and-volley skills into my game,” Ellis added. “We've been working a lot on my forehand and serve and volleys. Now, it's just trying to take that from the practice court and use it on the match court.”
Aussie Teens In The Top 600
|Player||Age||ATP Ranking||Best Challenger Result|
|Alex de Minaur||19||137||Final - Eckental 2016 & Segovia 2017|
|Max Purcell||19||270||Title - Gimcheon 2016|
||18||477||QF - Cherbourg 2018|
|Blake Ellis||19||510||SF - Kyoto 2018|
The Australian, who enjoys watching football and NBA basketball away from the court, can also count on the advice of another compatriot: 2018 breakout star Alex de Minaur.
“We are really good mates. It's great to see that he's doing well and I'm really proud of him. He's setting a good benchmark for other Aussies to follow. Definitely pushes me on the court to see guys my age like De Minaur, Shapovalov and Moutet all doing well. It sets a high standard for me to follow. I'll take one tournament at a time and see if I can get there.”
Ellis is all too aware that the road to the top of the sport will not be easy. He has already noticed significant differences between the Futures level and competing on the Challenger circuit.
“The depth of the players is the main difference,” said Ellis. “In Futures, you get a few easy rounds, but in Challengers everyone is difficult to beat. Even in qualifying. That is the big difference, the depth and quality of the players.”
Ellis’ short term goal is to establish himself on the ATP Challenger Tour this season, to progress up the ATP Rankings ahead of what appears to be a very bright future.
“Hopefully this year I'll play a few more Challengers than I did last year,” said Ellis. “I hope to get my ranking up a bit higher than what it is at the moment. That’s the first big goal, but we’ll take it one step at a time.”