Healthy Again, Polansky Renews Attempt At Biggest Career Goal
Canadian looks to make Top 100 of Emirates ATP Rankings
A decade into his pro career, Peter Polansky has played at the highest levels of the ATP World Tour, including ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournaments and Grand Slams. But the veteran, who's spent the bulk of his career playing ATP Challenger Tour events, is still working on his biggest goal: Reaching the Top 100 of the Emirates ATP Rankings.
“You call it a breakthrough when you break inside the Top 100,” Polansky said this spring from the ATP Challenger Tour event in Savannah, Georgia. “You start making a bit more money. You're getting into the bigger tournaments more consistently.”
He has come close. Two years ago, after playing Challengers all over the world for eight years, Polansky was one good run away from reaching the mark. An injury that puzzled him and doctors, though, derailed his rise for almost a year.
But now Polansky is back, and at 28, he's as eager as ever to reach his career goals.
“I can make it in the Top 100. It's always been my goal and I still believe in myself. I think that's the key – to just keep believing in yourself and never give up,” he said. “I'm on the right path. I'm feeling good.”
Before 2014, the Canadian had bounced around the Emirates ATP Rankings. In October 2009, after two Grand Slam main draw appearances – Australian Open and Roland Garros – the right-hander reached No. 164. Two years later, though, he had fallen to No. 410.
But in 2013 and 2014, Polansky started stringing good weeks together. In October 2013, Polansky didn't drop a set en route to winning the Tiburon Challenger, his first ATP Challenger title. He beat then-World No. 91 Tim Smyczek 6-4 7-6(4) in the semi-final and World No. 116 Matthew Ebden 7-5, 6-3 in the final.
Two weeks later in Charlottesville, Virginia, the Canadian beat tour veterans Donald Young and Rajeev Ram before falling in the final to then-Top 100 player Michael Russell. The very next week, Polansky made another final, losing to Smyczek.
In 2014, Polansky posted more high marks, qualifying at Indian Wells and again at Roland Garros. By the time the 2014 US Open came around, he was ranked a career-high No. 125 and feeling ready to qualify for a third time, having already done so in 2009 and 2010.
“I had some good results,” he said. “I was feeling pretty confident in my game.”
He won his first two matches and, in the final round of qualifying, was serving to make the main draw. But Polansky's right wrist started bothering him. He lost the game, then the set, then the match, 4-6, 7-5, 6-3, to then-World No. 186 Taro Daniel of Japan.
After the match, Polansky said, his wrist felt sore. “The next morning, I woke up, I couldn't bend it at all. It was just so painful,” he said.
He saw a doctor in New York, who said Polansky had only a little bit of inflammation. Take a few weeks off, the doctor told him.
But a few weeks later, the pain hadn't subsided, so Polansky had another MRI done. This time, the doctor told him to rest for eight weeks to give the inflammation more time to heal.
Two months later, Polansky tried to hit around. “The pain was the same, if not maybe a little bit worse,” he said. “I couldn't believe it. Three months later and taking a lot of time off. That's when I decided to get an operation done.”
He underwent surgery to repair a small cartilage tear in his right wrist.
Four months after that, he started practicing on court again. Finally, in July 2015 – 11 months after the US Open – Polansky returned to playing matches.
He took his comeback slow. Play one match, rest for three or four days.
Eventually, his wrist felt better and results followed. At the Cary Challenger in September 2014, Polansky reached the quarter-finals, beating then-World No. 111 John-Patrick Smith in straight sets in the second round. The following week, in Columbus, Ohio, Polansky lost a third-set tie-break to then-World No. 118 Bjorn Fratangelo.
“The important thing was to just rebuild my game and just regain confidence,” Polansky said.
He's achieved positive results this season as well. At the City of Onkaparinga ATP Challenger in January, Polansky, then ranked No. 712, qualified and reached the second round, beating up-and-coming American Frances Tiafoe in three sets in the first round. In March, Polansky qualified at Indian Wells again. At the Drummondville Challenger in Canada, he made the quarter-finals. He's also won three ITF Futures title in the past two months.
“This year, I've had a few decent results,” he said.
He's now ranked No. 260 in the Emirates ATP Rankings, just over 150 spots from where he wants to go, but much closer than he was in January.
For the remainder of the season, he wants more slow and steady improvements to guide him as they have for the past two years.
“I think by the end of this year I could get maybe inside the Top 200, maybe 190 or so. That'd be a good goal to finish the year,” he said. “In 2017, make another run for it.”