Low-Key Escobedo Makes Loud Arrival In Houston
The #NextGenATP American is hopeful for a big 2017
Ernesto Escobedo has been quietly rising up the Emirates ATP Rankings for the past year, but the #NextGenATP American made has made plenty of noise this week at the Fayez Sarofim & Co. U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championship.
The 20 year old reached his first ATP World Tour semi-final in Houston with a hard-hitting game and impressive mental toughness in tight moments. Escobedo prevailed on Friday in a three-hour, three tie-break marathon quarter-final against second seed John Isner. The American remained calm as Isner fought off six match points with big serving. Escobedo finally converted on his seventh with an ace.
Escobedo was ranked outside of the Top 300 just 12 months ago, but is projected to move well inside the Top 80 when the newest rankings are released on Monday.
“I wasn't winning a lot of matches my first two years on tour, so to have the results come this quickly is a little surprising,” he admitted. “But at the same time, I don't want to say it surpassed my expectations. This is what I've been working for. Now that I've won matches lately in Acapulco and Miami and here, I'm really feeling like I belong.”
It may seem surprising that the big-hitting baseliner reached his first ATP World Tour semi-final on red clay, especially since the California native played almost exclusively on hard-courts growing up. However, Escobedo said that not only does his game suit the surface, but that other American players can also produce similar results on the red dirt this year.
“I feel like Americans can play on clay. There’s a stereotype that we can’t, but I think it can be our best surface,” he said. “I grew up in Los Angeles, so there’s maybe only one or two clay courts in the whole city, but I always loved sliding around on it. It teaches you how to be patient, work the point around a little more. It’s a different game.”
Currently No. 7 in the Emirates ATP Race To Milan, Escobedo will move inside the Top 4 on Monday with a semi-final finish in Houston and could climb as high as No. 2 if he reaches the final or wins the tournament. The American is now in solid standing to qualify for the Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan and said he’s eager to take part in it.
“It would be so cool to be one of the Top 8 guys and make it there. It’s the first year of the event, but my last chance to qualify since I’m turning 21 this year, so I want to have that experience,” he said. “It’s really going to come down to the wire for those last few spots after the US Open and every match will count.”