Few tennis players know adversity as well as Marcos Giron. The American underwent right hip surgery in December 2015 and left hip surgery in February 2016. More than four years later, he is competing on one of the world’s biggest stages at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, set to play defending champion Daniil Medvedev in the second round of the Western & Southern Open.
“Medvedev has shown he’s one of the best in the world and I know I’m going to have to be out there and play my best to have a chance,” said Giron, who beat good friend Mackenzie McDonald 7-6(2), 7-5 on Sunday in the first round. “I’m excited for it, that’s why we play. We play to compete against the very best in the world.”
Giron’s best win came at last year’s BNP Paribas Open, where he rallied to upset then-World No. 24 Alex de Minaur, reaching the third round of the main draw as a qualifier. The highest-ranked player he has faced was then-World No. 4 Juan Martin del Potro at 2018 Los Cabos.
The qualifier said he will do some research on Medvedev, noting there is an abundance of footage to watch on the World No. 5, whom the American called “an absolute beast”.
“He doesn’t miss. He makes every ball and he chases everything down. He’s got a good serve, he’s got weapons and he doesn’t have any holes. He hits flatter than a lot of opponents, he makes people hit up and he’s good at taking advantage of that and he’s physical,” Giron said. “He’s mentally very tough. I’m going to have to find ways to create offence for myself because he’s super good at neutralising. It’ll be interesting trying to find those match-ups [during points].”
The former UCLA Bruin, who won the 2014 NCAA Singles Championship, is No. 102 in the FedEx ATP Rankings. With his opening-round win, he is on the verge of cracking the Top 100 for the first time, pending results the rest of the week.
“It’s definitely been a journey. Looking back to when I left school in 2014, I always knew I had the game, but I didn’t think it would take this long. Of course there have been some speed bumps with hip surgery,” Giron said. “Especially last year at Indian Wells, making the run there, it really gave me the confidence [I needed].”
Many of the players competing in New York are trying to find their rhythm after more than five months off. But Giron is used to that after missing 10 months due to his hip surgeries. He felt prepared for this time off, except this time he didn’t need to worry about his body.
“I knew what to expect. For me it wasn’t as hard because back then it was like, well, ‘I haven’t put in six months of training or I haven’t put in three months of training. I’ve put in two good months of training on hips that aren’t exactly fresh,’” Giron said. “I wasn’t sure how they were going to handle it. Back then when I was coming back I was kind of like, ‘Let me see how my body is going to handle it.’
“This [time] it almost felt like a boxing match where it was like, ‘Okay, I’ve got two, three months to prepare, let me do everything that I can and just be ready for it.’ It gave me a lot of time to reflect the past five months and I knew I just wanted to be in a good headspace.”