The Cerundolo Family Dream | ATP Tour
The Cerundolo Family Dream | ATP Tour
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Francisco Cerundolo lives five blocks from the Buenos Aires Lawn Tennis Club. If he wanted to, he could walk there every day, which he often does to avoid traffic. The same applies to his parents Alejandro and Maria Luz, whose roof he shares with his siblings Juan Manuel Cerundolo and Constanza.
This has always been the case for the Cerundolo family, who live and breathe tennis. The eldest of the Cerundolo siblings never knew it any other way. Francisco is now the highest-ranked Argentine in the Pepperstone ATP rankings at No. 33.
The Cerundolo family simply lives for tennis. For them, life without bats and balls is unimaginable.
“Our house is a dressing room,” Alejandro Cerundolo told ATPTour.com. “We talk all day about sports, tennis. As parents, we never pushed them to be athletes or forced them to be good. We raised them sportively and everyone went their own way. That makes us very proud today.”
Alejandro, 64, is a former professional who almost cracked the world top 300 and has been a coach and mentor to many Argentines.
The lady of the house, Maria Luz, plays a fundamental role. She is also a tennis player, a graduate psychologist with a postgraduate degree in sports psychology, and travels the world with her children whenever she can. Two tennis players and an international hockey star, each with their own personality, and Mother Cerundolo’s job is to keep her feet on the ground and bring harmony to her home.
The Cerundolo parents have always prevented their children from leaving school to spend more time practicing.
“It wasn’t easy, Fran was the most resilient. But now they understand why – they are intelligent children… Juanma was always most keen on tennis, on training. And Fran is now at the top too , a few years ago he spent a semester in the USA at the University of South Carolina. Now he’s just a couple [credits] about to graduate in Economics and Finance,” Alejandro said of Francisco, who is studying remotely at the University of Palermo, which has an agreement with the ATP Tour.
Francisco said: “I always went to school and I trained many hours less than everyone else … and that gave me an advantage over my opponents at 14, 15 years old. No one chose me as someone who could make it and be good.
“I was ‘bad’ but when I finished school at 18 I could start training. I grew up and always kept my attitude towards tennis: I didn’t want to run and play in the air, it didn’t work for me, I played by hitting hard and flat. But the most important thing was to believe in myself.”
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Francisco’s progress was more leisurely than that of his brother Juan Manuel. The younger Cerundolo excelled at a young age, winning the Junior Orange Bowl at the U12s and even making the leap onto the tour by winning the Cordoba Open at just 19 years old.
“When we were little, I went with Juanma all over the club, down the corridors, played tennis all day, especially in the summer, in the pool, drank milkshakes, but always spent a lot of time on the tennis courts,” said Francisco. “We always went the same way, each in his own category, but he won and I lost, and I was always knocked out of the tournament first.
“Over the years tennis has changed my life and learning to travel, play tournaments and going away and coming back to Argentina has always given me a boost of energy.”
Was there a point where he believed he could live the life he has now? “When you get to the ‘top’ and rub elbows with the best, you always remember the things you went through, at every stage. Now it’s a dream life, luxury, fans, huge stadiums, but I’ve always stayed down to earth and haven’t changed. Thankfully, I always believed my moment would come and eventually it happened,” said Francisco, who won the Bastad title last year to join Juan Manuel as the first Argentine brothers to win ATP Tour singles titles.
“When he won the tournament in Cordoba in 2021 and I reached the next final in Buenos Aires, both at the same time, that was amazing for both of us… At that point I think we were convinced that we were ready for the tour,” said Francisco.
According to Francisco, his younger brother taught him to be “more professional.”
“He always wanted to do everything perfectly since he was very little and I’ve learned a lot, from nutrition to training better,” said Francisco. “I found it difficult when I was young, I was pretty lazy and I learned from him how to be disciplined. Now I see it in my daily work.
Juan Manuel added: “The best thing about Fran as a person and as a player is how easy and laid back he is… As much as he’s world No. 33, he’s still the same and doesn’t have that star airs, and this allows him to keep improving. It’s like a mirror for me: I’ve always been more structured and he showed me how to have fun and not be stressed in certain moments.
“The best moment together was at the ATP Masters 1000 in Miami, I’m sure of that… He made the semifinals and I got through to the third round. In a tournament of this magnitude, it was incredible what games we both won and also that we were on the US swing together. And it ended in an amazing way.”
As written in the stars, Francisco became Argentina’s No. 1 player on February 13 thanks to the fact that his brother Juan Manuel defeated Diego Schwartzman in the second round of the Cordoba Open. “We talked about it and I told him I would help him,” Juan Manuel recalls with a smile. Schwartzman had nothing but praise for the brothers.
“I’m a few years older than them, but it’s great that players are still coming through and especially that they’re two brothers,” Schwartzman said. “I would be lying if I told you that as much as we have a great relationship, I’m glad he passed me. But because I’m competitive, I’ll now want to overtake him again.
“I can show you thousands of conversations with Juanma. About racquets, strings, playing patterns, everything you can think of… and in Cordoba he beat me and that meant Fran passed me. But this is tennis and they are doing things right to get where they are and have a really bright future ahead of them.
Do the Cerundolos set common goals?
“We always dream of touring together. We’re hoping to do that by the end of the year because that would mean I’m in the top 100 and we hope we’ll both continue to climb in the years to come,” said Juan Manuel.
Francisco said: “I think Juanma is doing great. Last year he had a lot of injuries. He loves sports, tennis, and he couldn’t play, but he did well. I think he was stronger, hitting well and he’s won four Challengers since coming back. Hopefully he’ll be back on tour soon.”
The Cerundolo Brothers continue to rise. They have their ups and downs, but they push each other and their families are there to support them every step of the way.