It’s been a big three months for 20-year-old Australian Philip Sekulic.
Since July, a series of incredible tournament results has seen him climb over 200 places in the world and announce himself at the top level of the game.
It started by making the final of the Granby Challenger tournament in Canada, defeating former world no.53 Denis Kudla en route.
In the last fortnight, he has gone to an even higher level by making his ATP tour debut and bringing his impressive game to the world stage.
He qualified for the ATP Chengdu tournament and had his first win at that level defeating world no.88 Nuno Borges.
In the second round, he played 18th-ranked Lorenzo Musetti and pushed the Italian all the way to three sets.
He backed that up by qualifying for the Shanghai Masters tournament a week later to give him valuable experience for his burgeoning career.
“It was my first time playing an ATP 250 and an ATP masters event, so I was pretty excited to get the opportunity to play at that level. It’s a bit easier to get pumped up to play when there are a lot of people watching and you’re playing for more points and prize money than usual,” he told The First Serve.
The prize money of around $38,000 won in these two ATP tournaments is almost half the amount he earned in 2023. However, the gains for Philip weren’t just the points and prize money, it was the experience he obtained.
“I learned how to play in front of a lot of people and some things I can do to calm myself down and focus on playing good tennis even when there’s a lot of pressure,” he said.
What’s exciting about Philip’s career isn't just these promising results, it’s the arsenal of weapons he brings to the court.
At 6’3 he has a strong serve that is often followed up by his greatest weapon: a booming forehand.
That shot was well on show against Musetti in Chengdu where he ran around to batter a winner down the line to claim the second set. It was a forehand that would remind many of a young Mark Philippousiss.
With Tennis TV labelling Philip as a “big-hitting Australian”, he acknowledges his weapons but knows he needs to improve.
“I think my serve and forehand are probably my biggest strengths. I can still improve both shots a lot so I’m gonna keep working hard on my game,” he said.
He isn’t just a big serve and forehand, Philip mixes up his games with raids to the net on occasion as well. It’s a tactic he is looking to introduce more into his game.
“I actually probably don’t come to the net as much as I should. It’s something I’m working on though and I’ve started trying to mix in some serve and volley to my game, I think it’s helping me improve my net game,” he told us.
His current live ranking of 277 has seen him achieve the goal set for him by coach Gavin Van Peperzeel, but his personal goal is even more ambitious.
“My goal at the start of the year was to finish inside the top 200, I’ll push hard to finish the year strong and hopefully I can get there,” he said.
Even if he doesn’t get there in 2023, his rise this year has been incredibly impressive.
He attributes his success to his coach, saying he makes sure he is “doing the right things on and off the court.”
Off the court, Philip tells us he follows the NBA and UFC and watches Netflix in his downtime away from home.
Home is Brisbane, however, if he goes on to achieve great things for Australia, a couple of states may have dibs on him. Philip was born in Western Australia but lived in Queensland since he was three years old.
He grew up watching Kyrgios play as “he was fun to watch” but also looked up to Dominic Thiem because “he would bang on; he hits super hard”.
If Philip himself can “bang on” he may be joining the cavalcade of Australians in the top 100, which is something he finds motivating for his own career.
“Seeing all the Aussie men doing well on the tour is definitely motivating and encouraging. We have so many talented guys, and I think even more of us can get into the top 100. It would be pretty cool if Australia had like 15 guys in the top 100,” he said.
Looking ahead to 2024, Phillip has some big goals ahead.
“In 2024 I would like to compete at all of the slams. I’ve played all the slams as a junior, but playing them professionally will definitely be way different. Beyond that my goal is to reach the top 100, if I could do that in 2024 that would be amazing,” he said.
With Philp currently the 20th-ranked player aged 20 years or younger (with Alcaraz and Rune leading the pack), his prospects look bright.
Combining his ever-improving results, his big game, and his great attitude, the top 100 and beyond look more than achievable for him.