Ricardas Berankis won his first Tour-level main draw match in 16 months last week in Atlanta when he defeated Dmity Tursunov in the first round. His last win came at Indian Wells in 2011 while he was in the midst of his best season start (R3 at the Australian Open, QF in San Jose and career-high world No. 73). But a couple of weeks after that first round win in the desert, which was followed by a second round retirement and a first round loss in Miami, Ricardas was sidelined for 4 months with a pelvis stress fracture. When he rejoined the Tour in July, he’d fallen out of the Top 100 and spent the rest of 2011 in the challenger circuit.
These injury setbacks have been the biggest hurdle in Ricardas’s young career. And his pursuit of being one of the top players in the world. Earlier this year, just as he was gaining momentum—he notched wins over Nicolas Mahut, Sergiy Stakhovsky and the now-famous Lukas Rosol at the end of 2011, he was again sidelined for 4 months with a groin injury that required surgery.
Ricardas got back in action last month during the grass “season” but had minimal success. Grass isn’t exactly the ideal surface to find your “tennis legs” on. However, he seems to have found it on the hard courts this month. He was a finalist at the Winnetka challenger, qualified for the main draw in Atlanta and got that first round win over Dima. This week in LA, Ricardas is in the quarterfinals as a qualifier. He upset 7th seed Bjorn Phau in the first round and defeated former world No. 18 Igor Andreev today. He’ll face either Nicolas Mahut or Paolo Lorenzi in the last 8, a winnable match either way. A career-week in the City of Angels is in the works. (Jinx, I know.)
We’ll never know how far ahead he’d be by now without the injuries but when (if?) his body stops betraying him, he’ll no doubt top his career-high ranking.
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