Challenger Vault: Roddick's Prime 100 Breakthrough, 20 Years On


Each legend has had their begin right here. No matter potential and promise, all gamers have come by the ATP Challenger Tour as they start their climb to the higher echelons of the sport. Nevertheless, not all paths to the highest are created equal. Whereas some take pleasure in gradual and regular progressions over the course of a few years, others have benefited from lightning-fast ascents. Such was the case for Andy Roddick.

When Roddick crashed onto the scene within the early 2000s, reaching No. 1 within the FedEx ATP Rankings and lifting the trophy on the US Open as a 21-year-old, the baby-faced American was a number one power behind the brand new guard of rising gamers. Roddick was set to take the ATP Tour by storm as he lit up radar weapons along with his untouchable serve and humbled his opponents with a booming forehand. Because the Nebraska native blitzed the competitors from an early age and loved a fast rise to the highest, he earned each accolade alongside the best way.

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The yr was 2000. Roddick had simply turned 18 and was sitting exterior the Prime 300 of the FedEx ATP Rankings, when he made his second look on the ATP Challenger Tour in Austin, Texas. Regardless of being new to the skilled scene, Roddick would encounter little resistance as he plotted his ascent.

Already in a rush to graduate to the following stage, he constructed on the expertise of battling World No. 1 Andre Agassi (as a wild card) on the ATP Tour occasions in Miami and Washington. Shortly thereafter, Roddick would declare his first piece of silverware on the Challenger circuit, dropping only one set en path to the title in Austin. The victory made him the fifth-youngest American to triumph on the ATP Challenger Tour on the time.

“The Challenger Tour serves an enormous goal,” Roddick instructed ATPTour.com. “It is a proper of passage. It offers such a crucial alternative and you actually need to work by the Challengers. A variety of instances it will possibly take even longer to get to the Prime 100 than the Prime 30 after that. It will be important and the blokes want to remain hungry. The monotony of going week after week after week, simply attempting to make it, is a tough vetting course of. You may see the blokes who’re professionals already at this stage. That’s, exhibiting up early and stretching and doing all the fitting issues. That is the place all of the preparation begins – on the Challenger circuit.”

Waikoloa 2001

Once we say that Roddick’s rise was fast, that’s no hyperbole. He would solely compete in seven tournaments in his temporary ATP Challenger Tour profession, posting a 24-3 report with a trio of titles in Austin, Burbank and Waikoloa. That victory within the California coastal city of Burbank moved him contained in the Prime 200, and he would open the 2001 season with an announcement win below the Hawaiian solar of Waikoloa. He and Taylor Fritz are the one Individuals to assert three Challenger crowns on the age of 18 years and below.

“I used to be the No. 1 junior on the earth and the transition to the Challenger Tour felt so massive to me,” Roddick added. “To have some early success – I gained in Austin and Burbank after which this win got here in Hawaii – actually helped. I wasn’t on the Challenger circuit for lengthy, however I definitely have fond recollections.

“I keep in mind being on the ATP Tour and already being established, and I might draw somebody who was taking part in effectively on the Challenger Tour. I knew they have been in type and able to compete, so I at all times took these gamers severely at the same time as I used to be progressing in direction of the highest of the sport.”

Roddick
Waikoloa 2001. Prime row (left to proper): Bob Bryan, James Blake, Brandon Hawk. Backside row (left to proper): Mike Bryan, Wayne Bryan, Andy Roddick

Filled with confidence following his Waikoloa victory, Roddick would dominate in 2001. 1 / 4-final run on the ATP Masters 1000 occasion in Miami simply two months later, which included a breakthrough win over Pete Sampras, marked his debut within the Prime 100 of the FedEx ATP Rankings. From No. 155 coming into Waikoloa at first of the season, to a year-end place of No. 16, the American made his mark in a flash.

Fast rises and temporary Challenger careers are the exception, however they aren’t unusual. Most just lately, Fritz made solely 9 Challenger appearances earlier than cracking the Prime 100 in 2016. Jannik Sinner posted a 28-7 report in his lone season on the circuit in 2019, rising from No. 546 to No. 78 by yr’s finish. However even fewer gamers make as seamless a transition as Roddick achieved.

Following his Prime 100 breakthrough in Miami, the 18-year-old would instantly streak to his maiden ATP Tour title on the clay of Atlanta and lifted his second trophy one week later in Houston, additional confirming his commencement from the Challenger circuit. And he would solidify his place among the many greatest gamers within the sport by the summer season, reaching his first Grand Slam quarter-final on the US Open. The remainder is historical past.

Youngest American Challenger Champions

Participant Age
Title Gained
Michael Chang 15 years, 7 months Las Vegas 1987
Tommy Ho 17 years, 4 months Ponte Vedra 1990
Jim Courier 17 years, 5 months Vina del Mar 1988
Jonathan Stark 17 years, 6 months Coquitlam 1988
Taylor Fritz 17 years, 11 months Sacramento 2015
Taylor Fritz 17 years, 11 months  Fairfield 2015
Andy Roddick  18 years, 1 month Austin 2000 
Andy Roddick  18 years, 2 months Burbank 2000
Taylor Fritz 18 years, 2 months  Joyful Valley 2016 
Jared Donaldson 18 years, 3 months Maui 2015 
Andy Roddick 18 years, 4 months  Waikoloa 2001 

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