PARIS – After setting the junior tennis world on fire in his final year at that level, Vancouver's Filip Peliwo is finding the transition to the professional ranks to be quite a roller-coaster ride.
But right now, life's pretty good. The 21-year-old has been spending lots of time at Roland Garros, practicing with French star Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
He warmed him up at noon Friday, hours before Tsonga's straight-sets win over Pablo Andujar later on Court Philippe Chatrier.
So far, so great. Tsonga is through three rounds, although his next opponent, No. 4 seed Tomas Berdych, is by far his toughest challenge yet.
Peliwo, whose ATP Tour ranking got as high as No. 223 just over a year ago, has dropped significantly since then. He currently stands at No. 462, which means he struggles to be eligible to play in events higher than the entry-level Futures tournaments he thought he'd be long done with by now.
There have been a series of injuries, nothing major, but enough to set him back each time he took a step forwad. He has struggled with his confidence. There also have been a few coaching changes. A stretch with Galo Blanco, the Spanish coach who took Peliwo's countryman Milos Raonic from the lower levels to the big leagues, was most definitely not a success. There have been a few too many technical changes, as each coach had his own ideas.
Peliwo's current setup, at the All In Academy just outside Paris with a French coach named Nicolas Copin who has a couple of decades of experience working with high-level players, seems to be working out well. Having Tennis Canada's support throughout the three years since his major junior results is a luxury not too many players around the world are blessed with.
Peliwo had missed a few weeks after a slight tear of the psoas muscle suffered when his foot stuck in some soft, thick clay at a Challenger in Italy just over a month ago. He was due to head to Croatia for a couple of $10,000 Futures tournaments during the French Open but, not quite 100 per cent, his return to action was postponed.
These moments at Roland Garros aren't a bad substitute – not that Peliwo, whose desire to succeed has never wavered – needed a reminder of how great the rewards can be.
He'll be back to the grind next week, to Challenger qualifying and $10,000 tournaments in godforsaken places with dodgy tennis courts. The contrast will be stark, but his experiences in Paris the last couple of weeks will be just that much more motivation to earn a promotion.