‘Weird, Wild,’ Eubanks Cracks Miami Fourth Round, Top 100
If a picture is worth a thousand words the smile on Christopher Eubanks’ face Monday evening was worth a million.
With the American railing ⅖ in the second-set tie-break of his match against Gregoire Barrere, rain forced the players off the court. When they returned after one hour and 55 minutes, the Frenchman won the first point before Eubanks saved five set points en route to a 6-3, 7-6(7) victory for a place in the fourth round of the Miami Open presented by Itau.
How did it feel?
“Really good. Really good. Really good,” Eubanks repeated to the media in Miami.
But it was more than just a win. It signified a milestone that the 26-year-old had been working towards. Eubanks climbed to No. 96 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings, and he is projected to crack the world’s Top 100 for the first time next Monday.
“The past few weeks have been really, really tough just because I’ve been kind of thinking about Top 100 and everything,” Eubanks said. “I had some losses that I shouldn’t have [had] and I was really second-guessing a lot about my game and everything.”
Eubanks this week decided to delete tennis apps off his phone to avoid looking at the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings. He had been disappointed with his recent play and set a goal for himself.
“I’m just going to focus on playing every single match and I did that,” Eubanks said before choking up with emotion inside the bowels of Hard Rock Stadium. “Wow, it feels good. It feels good.”
The Atlanta native followed the college route, competing for Georgia Tech from 2015-17 and twice earning ACC Player of the Year (2016-17). He broke into the Top 200 in April 2018, but the Top 100 proved elusive.
In February, Eubanks ascended to a career-high World No. 102, but four consecutive losses proved a roadblock. A three-set loss in Indian Wells qualifying to Maximilian Marterer gave him a bit more confidence that the Eubanks train was rolling in the right direction, and that has played out here in Miami.
The home favourite qualified before ousting Denis Kudla, 17th seed Borna Coric and Barrere to earn his place in the Top 100 and the fourth round of an ATP Masters 1000 event for the first time.
Eubanks admitted he was never the best player in his state, section or the country growing up. But his hard work has paid off and coach Ruan Roelofse was happy to confirm for his charge after Monday’s match that he had made his long-desired breakthrough.
“For him it’s very special of course. You saw what it meant to him on the court,” Roelofse told ATPTour.com. “He didn’t know that it was [guaranteed] Top 100. He thought it was, but I told him afterwards.
“It’s special for me to help him because he’s been playing for a few years on Tour and everyone knows he has the capability of doing it. So to help him get there means a lot to me, too.”
What was most telling was how happy people were for the American. Eubanks has plenty of fans in the locker room and around the tennis world.
During the rain delay, Eubanks spoke in the locker room to Frances Tiafoe, whose match had also been suspended. Tiafoe gave him plenty of encouragement. After the victory, Eubanks FaceTimed with friend Coco Gauff. Others including Darren Cahill, Rennae Stubbs, Sebastian Korda and Brad Gilbert congratulated him on social media.
It is Eubanks’ special moment, but everyone is happily sharing in it. Actor Jamie Foxx even congratulated him on social media
“It’s amazing. He’s an amazing person on and off the court. He’s obviously got a lot of character,” Roelofse said. “People love seeing him play, he’s entertaining to the crowd and personally one on one he’s been great with me. It’s been fun helping him and I’m happy with where we’re heading.”
It is such an emotional moment that it is easy to forget Eubanks is one of the final 16 players remaining in the year’s second Masters 1000 event. A match against unseeded Frenchman Adrian Mannarino separates him from a spot in the quarter-finals.
For now, Eubanks is understandably soaking it all in.
“Damn it’s crazy man,” Eubanks said. “Wow this is weird. Sorry, it’s just wild.”
As the 26-year-old continued providing the media insight into his accomplishment, Eubanks could not help but take a fun jab at himself.
“Why am I crying?” Eubanks asked himself rhetorically. “This is so embarrassing! But no, it feels good.”