Since making his ATP debut at his home tournament in 2019, the Argentinian No. 1 has seen a season-by-season leap in his display and ranking. In 2021, Francisco Cerundolo became the first qualifier to reach the final of the same event in 20 years, and by the next year, he had broken into the top 100.
Primarily a clay courter, it was no surprise that Cerundolo secured his maiden ATP title on the surface in Bastad in 2022 in a victory over Sebastian Baez, which catapulted him into the top 30. Consequently, his seamless transition to other surfaces catalyzed his 2023 season from great to sensational in a year he recorded many firsts.
We at LWOT now recap what has been a remarkable season for the 25-year-old.
Francisco Cerundolo 2023 Season Review
Cerundolo began the season with his debut at the Australian Open (having missed the previous editions through Covid and injuries) and showed why his semifinal run in Miami a year before was no fluke after he made it through to the third round. Emerging from down under, Cerundolo dove into the clay-themed South American swing. By the time he emerged, he became Argentina’s (and the continent’s) No. 1 player.
A return to Europe even brought better form and more wins, including victories over top 10 players. He defeated Felix Auger-Alliassime in Miami, Casper Ruud in Barcelona, and Jannik Sinner in Rome – then world numbers six, three, and eight, respectively, playing in the quarterfinals of two out of the three events.
Mid Season – Great time in France/Second ATP Title
He maneuvered his way into another ATP Final, defeating the defending champion Cameron Norrie in the semis before succumbing to homeboy Arthur Fils in the final in straight sets. Despite the setback, Cerundolo moved from Lyon to Paris to enjoy even more success as he defeated fellow clay court specialists, Jaume Munar, Yannick Haffman, and No. 8 Taylor Fritz before yielding to Holger Rune in a hard-fought match Round of 16 five-setter at the French Open.
Cerundolo’s time in France propelled him into the top 20, and as if to celebrate his new-found status, he won the Eastbourne 250-level event. He defeated two Americans, Mackenzie Macdonald in the semis and No. 2 seed Tommy Paul in the final, to take the title. It was a truly symbolic win as Cerundolo became only the third Argentine and the second since the start of the ATP Tour to ever win a title on grass.
After a second-round loss at Wimbledon, Cerundolo returned to the city where he won his maiden title and was on the verge of another final in Bastad before crashing out in the semi-final to eventual champion, Andrey Rublev.
He went on to grab his first win at Flushing Meadows, coming from a set down to defeat American Zachary Svajda before losing to Jiri Vesely in a lengthy five-setter. His debut in the Laver Cup recorded a first-ever win for South America at the event. Cerundolo ended his season with his fifth top-ten scalp with a second-round win over Casper Ruud at the Paris Masters.
Cerundolo’s rise has been meteoric. His performances on hard, and especially grass, have contributed to that. He will certainly be looking to continue to improve on those surfaces next year. On clay, it wouldn’t be surprising if he makes a deeper run at next year’s French Open and establishes himself as a top-ten player.
Main Photo Credit: David Kirouac – USA TODAY Sports