At 6 feet 8 inches tall and with a long wingspan to match, Canadian tennis player Gabriel Diallo can be one of the few players for your opponents.
The 21-year-old has come a long way in his first full season as a professional. Diallo will be looking to take another step up in next week’s Wimbledon qualifiers.
Coach Martin Lorendo said, “The momentum of his long arms makes him look like a big heavyweight when he connects.” “The speed of the ball when the timing is right is really difficult to handle.”
Diallo, a Montreal native, decided to forgo his senior year at the University of Kentucky this year to focus on lower-level challenger events to build his professional career.
He has racked up some impressive victories so far.
Diallo defeated world No. 25 Daniel Evans (Great Britain) in his first grass tournament at the Lexus Surbiton Trophy earlier this month. The Montreal resident has a 16-10 record on the Challenger Tour this season and a career-high No. 139 on the ATP Tour.
He will be a star player when qualifying for Grand Slam tournaments begins on Monday.
“It’s going to be important to control your emotions and control the game well,” Diallo said from London on Friday.
Diallo was ranked 943 in the world last June. He finished the 2022 Challenger season with a 17-7 record, jumping to 227th at the start of the year.
“As a coach and an insider, I know many people are impressed with the leap in this short period of time,” Laurendeau said.
Diallo made his National Bank Open debut in Montreal last year, beating James Duckworth of Australia, who was ranked 62nd in the world at the time, in a qualifying draw.
He won the Granby Challenger later that summer and made his Davis Cup debut. Diallo’s ranking climbed 75 places in mid-October to number 250.
“You’ll try to climb as much as you can, but you’ll quickly realize that it doesn’t really matter,” he told The Canadian Press. “What really matters is how you develop as a player and how you develop as a person.
“If you pay attention to that, I feel like your rank will naturally go up.”
The results of the singles qualifying draw will be announced on Sunday. Vasek Pospisil from Vernon, British Columbia is also on the entry list.
Katherine Seboff of Toronto, Carol Zhao of Richmond Hill, Ontario, and Eugenie Bouchard of Westmount, Kenya. It is on the Women’s Qualification Entry List.
Players must win 3 qualifying matches to advance to the main tournament starting July 3rd.
Montreal’s Felix Auger-Aliassime, Richmond Hill, Ontario’s Dennis Shapovalov and Thornhill, Ontario’s Milos Raonic are on the main list of players to watch, but all three have battled injuries this season.
The list of women includes Bianca Andreescu of Mississauga, Ontario, Leila Fernandez of Laval, Kenya, and Rebecca Marino of Vancouver.
Laurenteau said Diallo has a strong all-around game and covers ground well.
“He’s surprisingly consistent for a player of his size,” said the Londoner. “He moves a lot better than most athletes who are 6-foot-8.”
Armed with big serves, forehands and a solid backhand, Diallo strives to remain aggressive on the court and use his size and power to his advantage.
“As the months go by, his holes are dwindling and his weapons are getting more and more,” Laurendeau said.
At Kentucky, Diallo was named to the All-SEC First Team and led the Wildcats to an SEC conference title. He was ranked eighth in the NCAA with a 38-8 record.
“I know he’s pretty high in the[ATP]rankings, but that’s a byproduct of his game and experience,” Laurendeau said. “He’s still 18 months old and has 24 months to start feeling like a real professional. There’s a lot to learn in his first few years on tour.
“He’s still been exposed to the situation for six months. Hopefully the next 18 months will help him continue to grow his game.”
This report by the Canadian Press Agency was first published on June 23, 2023.