Tennis: Janowicz signs up for open

By Dana Johannsen

Giant son of Poland brings his big serve to Auckland - and maybe a Ferrer rematch.

Jerzy Janowicz (left) defied the odds to reach the Paris Open final, where he lost to David Ferrer. Photo / AP
Jerzy Janowicz (left) defied the odds to reach the Paris Open final, where he lost to David Ferrer. Photo / AP

Jerzy Janowicz, the fairytale story of this year's ATP Tour, will kick off his 2013 season in Auckland after signing on to play in the Heineken Open.

The 2.03m Pole made headlines this month after upsetting some of the giants of the sport on his way to the final of the Paris Masters.

The qualifier beat five top 20 players in succession, including Andy Murray (3) and Janko Tipsarevic (9), before falling to David Ferrer in the final.

Despite ending Janowicz's bold run through the tournament, Ferrer was a popular winner in Paris with the world No 5 finally picking up his first masters title after finishing runner-up to one of the "big four" in his three previous final appearances.

Janowicz may get a chance at a rematch against the Spaniard at the Heineken Open. Ferrer, a regular in Auckland, is the tournament's top seed and will be trying to win his third consecutive title.

Heineken Open tournament director Karl Budge said it was great to be able to announce another new face for the January tournament alongside top ATP newcomers Martin Klizan (Slovakia) and David Goffin (Belgium).

"Janowicz has had one of those seasons that most players only dream about. Players outside the top 50 don't make the finals of masters level events. You only need to look at how long it took Ferrer to win one to see how treasured they are," Budge said.

"Maybe the Heineken Open will be Janowicz's chance for a rematch with our defending champion."

Regardless of how far he progresses through the tournament, simply being in this part of the world in January is a huge reversal of fortune from where he was 12 months ago.

Ranked outside the top 200 at the beginning of the year, Janowicz was unable to afford the travel costs to Melbourne to play in the qualifying rounds of the Australian Open. He played mostly second-tier challenger events over the first half of the year, sometimes sleeping in his car to save on accommodation. But his runner-up finish in Paris came with a €235,000 ($370,000) payday and boosted him from 69 in the rankings to 26 - a leap of nearly 200 places since the beginning of the year - assuring him automatic entry into the Australian Open draw.

The 21-year-old, who had previously reached only one quarter-final - in Moscow last month - has been elevated to hero status in his home country following his remarkable run. The last time a qualifier reached an ATP Masters final on debut was 12 years ago, and Polish media were whipped into a frenzy over Janowicz's historic feat.

Asked if he had received any sponsorship offers following his breakthrough tournament in Paris, Janowicz replied: "The street next to my house is actually completely blocked. There is like nine or 10 cars, TV [trucks] - there is no way to get to my house right now."

The sudden arrival of the big-serving giant continues the rise of Polish tennis led by Agnieszka Radwanska, who reached a career high of No 2 in WTA rankings in July. Radwanska is the top seed for the ASB Classic, which runs from December 31 to January 5, the week preceding the men's tournament.

The full Heineken Open field will be announced today.

- NZ Herald

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