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Eying Australian Open seed, Marcos Giron plots indoor onslaught to cap sophomore season
Fresh off a first ATP final, the American is making up for lost time after multiple hip surgeries delayed his arrival. But first: a trip to Gijon.
Published Oct 12, 2022
WATCH: Giron didn't drop a set en route to his first ATP final at the San Diego Open.
Marcos Giron loves tennis, and also food. The latter makes him late for our chat last week.
“I was just coming from an interview all about food,” he explains with comic exasperation, “what I eat and all that. I got very passionate about it.”
Passion has fueled Giron in big ways and small: from motivating him through a career full of adversity, to inspiring his competition calendar.
“I’m on a plane, on the way to Gijon,” he relays the following afternoon. “Had to play it, look at my last name!”
Gijon is Giron’s 27th ATP event of his second full season on tour; that the 29-year-old hasn’t dropped back down to the Challenger level in two years—avoiding the proverbial “sophomore slump”—is a point of immense pride.
“I’ve learned just how much of it all is mental, and how difficult it is to be good on a week to week basis,” he says. “There’s so many changing circumstances, conditions, time zones, balls, and so many other moving variables that it’s that much harder to do well every week.
“Ultimately, you have to back yourself and your ability because the margins are so small that playing well when it matters is critical to success. So many people have the level and the ability to do it—and I know I absolutely have that ability, as well—but I think there were moments in time where I didn’t really believe it when it mattered.”
My goal is to get seeded at Slams because success breeds success. This year, I played Foe first round of the US Open, and he makes the semis. In Australia, I played Rafa first round and he won the tournament! The higher you’re ranked, the better your opportunity to avoid a top guy early. Everyone’s good, but being ranked lower makes it that much tougher. Marcos Giron
A former UCLA standout and 2014 NCAA champion, Giron had a few close calls against the game’s best in 2022—pushing both Stefanos Tsitsipas and Félix Auger-Aliassime to three sets in the weeks before Wimbledon—and felt his level building in time for a fourth-quarter surge.
“When I was talking to my coaches, friends, and family, I was saying it was going to be a good end to the year. I was saying that even before the US Open, because I’ve actually been playing well since Cincinnati and going into the Open I felt really good and confident.”
Though a brutal first-round draw against eventual semifinalist Frances Tiafoe dashed his hopes in Flushing Meadows, Giron found redemption close to home when he entered the San Diego Open. The Thousand Oaks native stunned top seed Dan Evans to reach his first ATP final and book an all-SoCal championship match against Brandon Nakashima.
“I love playing in Southern California. It’s too bad there aren’t more events. My first breakthrough at an ATP event was Indian Wells 2019, and now my first final comes in San Diego, so I guess I really do like to play here!
“The atmosphere was amazing, especially from the semis on, because the stands were pretty full. I had a lot of friends and family coming down, asking for tickets. It’s inspiring and it’s amazing. I love feeling the support from them, and it definitely gave me an extra motivation to do well, and compete hard.”
Though he finished runner-up to an in-form Nakashima, the result edged him back towards the Top 50—where he peaked at No. 49 back in May—and saw him employ an encouraging efficiency across three straight-set victories.
“I’ve made some semis, have had some wins over guys who were Top 20, so I know my level’s there, but I hadn’t been able to put it together where I won multiple matches in a row all the way to the final.
“On top of it all, I played so many three-set matches in my life—and I’ve won a lot of them—but in San Diego, I was able to win all my matches in straight sets, which really made me happy that I could be more clinical in the past.”
Gijon’s roof won’t tamper Giron’s ambitions: the American rallied from a set down to knock out No. 8 seed Albert Ramos-Viñolas on Tuesday and plans an indoor onslaught, culminating at the Rolex Paris Masters—where scored his first Top 10 win over Matteo Berrettini in 2020.
“I’ve done well on the indoor swing before, making the Round of 16 the last couple of years in Paris, but I’d really like to go farther,” he says. “I’d love to go to a final and win an event so I can really move up.
“My next goal is to get seeded at Slams because success breeds success. This year, I played Foe first round of the US Open, and he makes the semis. In Australia, I played Rafa first round and he won the tournament! The higher you’re ranked, the better your opportunity to avoid a top guy early. Everyone’s good, but being ranked lower makes it that much tougher.”
If it sounds like Giron has had time to plan the ideal career, that’s because he has. He played his first US Open in 2014 only for chronic hip issues to hinder his initial ascent. Two surgeries later, he finished 2019 just outside the Top 100 before COVID-19 caused a further delay.
Flanked by a strong team led by coach Evan Lee, Giron hasn’t let a minute go to waste once action resumed, channeling his passion to be all that he might have been.
“I’ve looked back and wished I’d been able to break through earlier. It would have been amazing. But there’s another part of it that makes me want to maximize my time on court while I can.
“I think having the career that I’ve had has definitely made me appreciate moments like making a final, and want to keep improving, do more, and not get complacent.”