Little-known Queenslander Jason Kubler is one of the four players nominated for the ATP Comeback Player of the Year award and fellow Aussie John Millman reckons he deserved to win that prize.
Millman, who is himself one of the four nominations, tweeted that despite the presence of Novak Djokovic and Kei Nishikori as the other two players on that list, there was just one winner for him – Kubler.
Around August last year, Kubler’s ranking sat at a woeful number 945 and he was having doubts over his continuation on the ATP circuit and pushing his tennis career forward. Since then, Kubler has won 41 out of the 61 matches he’s played on the Challenger and Futures circuit and catapulted into the top 100 of the ATP Rankings.
Currently ranked 91st in the world, Kubler could even qualify directly for the Australian Open. Since featuring at the Australian Open in 2010 for the first time, Kubler’s only other Grand Slam appearances came earlier this year when he played in the main draw of three of the four majors – missing out only at the French Open.
In fact, he also managed to win his first ever Grand Slam match, stunning the 19th seeded Roberto Bautista Agut in round one in straight sets. Kubler retired from his second round match against Taylor Fritz.
And Millman said all of that and more was the reason why Kubler deserved to win the award.
“Consecutive surgeries, never been inside 100 before, told he couldn’t play on hardcourt anymore, started with no ranking, no money in the bank when making that comeback … literally starting from scratch. You’re telling me someone else is more deserving than Jason Kubler.”
Millman himself has had a brilliant season, improving from 128th in the world to 31st, in a year that saw him stun Roger Federer in a four-setter at the US Open earlier this year. He lost in the quarter-final to Djokovic.
Kubler said the nomination meant a lot given what he’s been through, including multiple surgeries which he said was the toughest for him.
He added: “But I have had a breakthrough year and I am proud of myself and thank all of the people who have stood by me on this road.”
Djokovic was languishing at number 12 in the ATP Rankings after withdrawing from the final four months of the season last year and did not have a great start to the season at the first two majors. However, his comeback was completed when he won the Wimbledon and the US Open and is now gunning for the world number one spot.