World No217 Sebastian Ofner, 21, has made a stunning run to the third round at Wimbledon, making it through the qualifying rounds before upsetting Thomaz Bellucci and No17 seed Jack Sock in the first two rounds of the main draw.
Here are a few things to know about the 1.91m Austrian, who faces Alexander Zverev in the third round on Saturday…
1 – He had never played a tour-level main draw prior to this fortnight
Ofner’s only ever attempt to play a tour-level tournament was in Vienna last year, where he lost in the second round of qualifying.
2 – He had never played on grass prior to this fortnight
“I never played before on grass, and now I’m in the third round, so I can’t believe it either,” he told reporters after his win over Sock on Thursday.
3 – Three months ago, he was playing a $15k ITF event in Greece
Ofner was playing on the ITF circuit up until last April. He reached a Challenger final in Mestre in May, which boosted his ranked just in time for the cut-off for Wimbledon qualifying.
“I can’t believe it. I played some Challengers before and I saw that I’m not too far away from good players. Now maybe something in the head has clicked, I think that’s it,” he says.
4 – He has played 18 sets so far in the last 13 days
Ofner’s path from Wimbledon qualifying through the main draw third round has been one big battle after the other. He started his qualifying campaign by beating Kimmer Coppejans 10-8 in the third, was down two-sets-to-love against Great Britain’s Jay Clarke in the final round of qualifying before he won in five, and also played a five-setter against Sock in the second round on Thursday.
“Now I’m feeling pretty good. A little bit I feel my body but it’s okay. I don’t feel it that much,” he insists.
5 – He is coached by Dominic Thiem’s father, Wolfgang Thiem
He has practiced multiple times with Dominic Thiem, who has made sure to congratulate him after each match win this fortnight.
6 – The prize money he has made at Wimbledon is more than double what he has earned his entire career
Ofner’s entire career earnings coming into the Championships has amounted to $46,193. His third round run at Wimbledon will earn him a $116,000.
“Sure now I’m making lots of points and it will help me to play maybe ATP qualifying and maybe be seeded in Challengers. Sure the money is a lot, more than double I’ve earned till know in my whole career. I’ll save it and looking forward,” he says.
7 – He only started practicing seriously at age 19
Unlike his fellow 21-year-olds, Ofner only start training seriously at the advanced age of 19. Before that, he was in school.
“I finished school at 19, so until I was 19 I wasn’t practicing that much and I know that other players my age that they stopped school. So now I’ve been training for two years really professionally, without a second, let’s say hobby. I wanted to play junior, in juniors I wasn’t good, I was 400 (in the world). I wanted to start at 17 but that year I was injured, and also body-wise I was pretty small and thin. I was growing, at 20 I was still growing. So that’s why I wasn’t a good junior,” he explains.
8 – His favourite player growing up was Roger Federer