PARIS (Reuters) - Little-known Pole Jerzy Janowicz set his sights on a place among the tennis elite after being beaten 6-4 6-3 by fourth-seeded Spaniard David Ferrer in the final of the Paris Masters on Sunday.
The 21-year-old’s barnstorming run to the final secured a place in the world’s top 30 and a seeded place in the Australian Open, the grand slam tournament he skipped in January because of a lack of cash.
Another consolation for the unseeded Janowicz’s runner-up finish was a cheque for 234,865 euros ($301,700).
“I have just become a top-30 player so I think I will not have to worry any more about money and I will have good opportunities to fight for an even better ranking,” he told a news conference.
“I’m going to be seeded in Australia, that is a huge help. In the small ATP tournaments sometimes I will have a bye in the first round.
“This is a good opportunity to work even harder and to fight for everything. Maybe one day I will become a top‑10 player in the world.”
Janowicz beat five top-20 players this week including U.S. Open and Olympic champion Andy Murray.
“At the beginning of this year my goal was to be in the top 100 and suddenly I am in the top 30,” he said.
Tournament director Guy Forget, the former world number four, said he had seen it all before.
“The first time Gustavo Kuerten reached the final of the French Open he came here with his blue and yellow shirt and his disheveled hair and his very special technique,” said Forget.
“People were saying, ‘who is that Brazilian player?’ So very strange things have happened in tennis.
“Just before the second round, someone asked me a question about Janowicz and I hadn’t seen him play at all. I didn’t even know what he looked like so I thought I had to watch him a little bit.
“I watched him play and this lad is amazing,” Forget added.
Murray, dwarfed in his third-round match with the 2.03-metre Pole on Thursday, was similarly impressed earlier in the week.
“He tried a lot of drop shots and went for winners when he was out of position that maybe some of the others don’t,” the Scot said.
Janowicz, who saw his parents sell their shops and apartments so that he could become a professional, said he would keep his feet on the ground.
“Right now I cannot relax. I just have to keep my focus all the time because there is a good opportunity to become even stronger,” he said.
If he needs a reminder of his stunning giantkilling run in Paris he will simply take a look at the worn-out bag he used this week.
“I will keep it somewhere in my closet at home,” he explained. “When I have some tough moments in my life I will just grab this bag and think about this week.”
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Reporting by Julien Pretot; editing by Tony Jimenez