First-Time Winners: Vesely, Estrella, Sock
ATPWorldTour.com pays tribute to the first-time winners on the ATP World Tour in 2015
Six players on the ATP World Tour earned their first titles in 2015. At the time of their victories, they ranged in age from 21 to 34. Below are stories of the first three winners and how they fared for the rest of the season.
Jiri Vesely – Auckland [Vesely Spotlight]
Czech rising star Jiri Vesely began his ascent up the Emirates ATP Rankings in the second week of the 2015 season, capturing his maiden ATP World Tour title with a 6-3, 6-2 rout of Adrian Mannarino in Auckland. Vesely, who peaked at World No. 35 in late April, became the first Czech to win in the New Zealand capital since Jiri Novak in 1996.
“It feels amazing to be part of the ATP champions,” said Vesely. “It’s not something that everyone is [able] to achieve, so I’m very grateful for that. It’s a great start for me… I can really see that it’s possible to play with the best guys and I think that’s something very important for me for the future.”
The qualifier won seven matches in eight days, upsetting 13th-ranked Ernests Gulbis and World No. 16 Kevin Anderson en route to the championship. Vesely would reach a second final on the European clay of Bucharest three months later and equaled his best Grand Slam result in advancing to the third round of the US Open. On the ATP Challenger Tour, the 22 year old successfully defended his crown on home soil in Prostejov.
Victor Estella Burgos – Quito [Estrella Spotlight]
At 34 years old, Victor Estrella Burgos became the oldest first-time ATP World Tour titlist in the Open Era with a thrilling 6-2, 6-7(5), 7-6(5) win over top seed Feliciano Lopez at the Ecuador Open Quito. The first player from the Dominican Republic to win a title on the circuit, Estrella Burgos also competed in his first ATP World Tour doubles final, falling with partner Joao Souza to the German team of Gero Kretschmer and Alexander Satschko.
"The truth is that Quito has become a very special city for me," Estrella Burgos said. "It actually already was, as I've won Challengers here. Today has been a very tough day for me where I was a set up, and later I lost the tie-break. In the third set I was up a break, and I didn't manage the nerves well.”
The 34 year old would contest his first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event since 2008 a month later in Indian Wells, and notched his first match win on the lawns of Wimbledon, rallying past Igor Sijsling in four sets. Four of the six first-time winners in 2015 also emerged victorious on the ATP Challenger Tour, with the Dominican lifting the trophy in Morelos, Mexico. Estrella Burgos cracked the Top 50 of the Emirates ATP Rankings for the first time with his title run.
Jack Sock – Houston [Sock Spotlight]
Rising Americans took charge in 2015, with three teens finishing in the year-end Top 200 of the Emirates ATP Rankings and Jack Sock leading the young gun surge at World No. 26. The 23 year old downed Sam Querrey on the clay of Houston in April for his maiden ATP World Tour crown. The first-time champion notched four-straight defeats of seeded players en route to the title, including second seed Roberto Bautista Agut in the second round, No. 5 seed Santiago Giraldo in the quarter-finals and third seed Kevin Anderson in the semi-finals.
“It feels incredible,” said Sock. “Clay is my favourite surface. It feels surreal. It feels incredible, and to have friends and family here to share it with me feels even better. I feel I competed well and took care of my serve very well. On this surface against these players and the tough field that it was, to only get broken a handful of times is not easy."
A torn muscle in his pelvis forced Sock to sit out the start of 2015 and the American did not miss a step in his return in early March. An ATP World Tour Masters 1000 doubles crown in Indian Wells, alongside Vasek Pospisil, was followed by his maiden singles triumph in Houston, becoming the seventh player born in the 1990s to win on the circuit. Sock’s ascent to the Top 30 would culminate with a run to the fourth round at Roland Garros, semi-final finish on the grass of Newport and a final on the indoor hard courts of Stockholm (l. to Berdych).