April 4, 2020

The Best of 2020 -- Breaking Through Barriers

Well, we're about to enter our fifth week of tennis isolation -- or is it the fourth? or the nineteenth? -- and we've got at least two months before we see any live action on court. So I'll continue looking at some of the best players we've seen on the tennis tours this year with a look at two stars who're really coming into their own this year and truly making a name for themselves.

So without further ado, here are the #3 picks for the Best of 2020 -- so far.

The Men: Thiago Seyboth Wild

Age: 20
Current Ranking: #114
Title(s): Santiago

The young Brazilian burst onto the scene a few months ago when he stunned his way to the title in Chile, advancing past red-hot Cristian Garin in the quarters and beating an on-the-rise Casper Ruud in the final. It was quite an accomplishment for the then-teenager, who'd only one two ATP-level matches in his career before.

But then Wild really shocked us all when he became the first tennis player to test positive for COVID-19 -- just a few weeks after capping his South American swing with that title.

I haven't heard any updates on his condition since that post, but hopefully he'll recover fully and quickly. While I'm sure tennis isn't the first thing on his mind these day's, I can't wait to see what's still in store for him. After all I doubt he was destined to top out ranked in the triple digits, and I'm sure (I hope) when things get back to normal, we'll get to see him on top again.

The Women: Ons Jabeur

Age: 25
Current Ranking: #39
Title(s): None (yet!)

Jabeur may not be high on most people's radars yet, but the Tunisian trailblazer is rising up the rankings quickly.

Her first big win of the year came in Melbourne, where she effectively ended the career of a retiring Caroline Wozniacki in the third round of the Australian Open. She backed that up with a win over the woman who beat Serena Williams. In Dubai she put on a brilliant show against eventual winner Simona Halep and a week later took out Karolina Pliskova on the way to the semis in Doha.

But perhaps the bigger accomplishment for Jabeur is what she's done for her country. She was the first Arab woman to make the final eight at a Major, and the first to break the top fifty. She's even passed compatriot Malek Jaziri, the veteran who peaked at #42 in the world early last year. Pursuing a career that's not really traditional in her community, she's certainly trying to set an example for an entire group of people.

She may not have won a title just yet. But something tells me she'll do something about that when she gets back on court.

There's still more to come in by "Best of 2020" list, so check in soon. But in the meantime, check out who else made the cut here!

And here's today's #TennisAtHome moment, courtesy of former Wimbledon champ:

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