Chilean rising tennis star Nicolas Jarry said his breakthrough year on the ATP World Tour , in which he won his first Grand Slam match, defeated two top-10 players and finished the season ranked No. 43, has been an emotional roller-coaster ride.
"Finishing in the world's top 50 has been incredible. It's been an emotional roller-coaster ride this year. All the experiences were new," the 23-year-old told EFE in an interview in his native Santiago.
Two of the biggest highlights for Jarry were winning his first Grand Slam match (a four-set win at Wimbledon over Serbia's Filip Krajinovic) and reaching his first final on the ATP World Tour (losing that championship match in early March at the Brasil Open to Italy's Fabio Fognini ).
Jarry began the year ranked No. 113 but climbed to a career-high No. 39 early this month and is currently the third-highest-ranked Latin American player after Argentines Juan Martin del Potro (No. 5) and Diego Schwartzman (No. 17).
The Chilean said that in the early part of the year his goal was to stay in the top 100, a feat that not all players achieve after leaving the ATP Challenger Tour and playing full-time on the ATP World Tour.
"Later I said, 'let's try to reach the top 50' and I did it. I'm much more motivated to keep going and set goals that are a little bit tougher," Jarry said, adding that his long-term objective is to break into the world's top 10.
Two wins that certainly bolstered his belief were his victories over then-world No. 6 Marin Cilic of Croatia on Oct. 9 in the third round of the Shanghai Masters and over then- (and current-) world No. 8 Dominic Thiem of Austria on July 27 in Hamburg, Germany.
"After (11-time French Open champion) Rafael Nadal, Thiem is the best on clay. That was my most important win of the year," he said.
Jarry has become the big hope for Chilean tennis after a years-long drought following the retirements of Marcelo Rios, Fernando Gonzalez and Nicolas Massu.
Rios is the only Chilean to reach world No. 1, while Massu won a pair of gold medals in men's singles and men's doubles (with Gonzalez) at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens and was briefly in the top 10.
Gonzalez reached the top five in men's singles and was runner-up (to Swiss great Roger Federer) at the 2007 Australian Open.
Unlike those other three, who were all 1.83 meters (6-foot) or shorter, Jarry (1.98 meters) is part of a new generation of ATP players - along with Alexander Zverev, Karen Khachanov and Daniil Medvedev - who are nearly two meters in height and not only have big serves but can compete at the highest level from the baseline.