Commanding a towering presence at 198cm with the ability to hit through his opponents with ferocious power, Nicolás Jarry relies on his service games to dominate and manoeuvre out of trouble. When it comes to breaking serve, that has often been more difficult to conquer just like many of the taller players on tour. Off the court however, the Chilean has returned serve in the most brutal fashion which has seen him overcome a great deal of adversity. The 28-year-old’s talent has never been in question, having been called up for his nation’s Davis Cup match as a teenager before steadily climbing up the rankings. 2019 would prove to be a breakout year for Jarry, taking down number three seed Alexander Zverev for the biggest win of his career, defeating Stefanos Tsitsipas on grass, and claiming a maiden ATP title in Sweden. Those outstanding results would propel him to a career-high ranking of world number 38.
A career low soon dramatically followed toward the back end of that same season as Jarry tested positive for two banned substances which confirmed an 11-month suspension handed down by the International Tennis Federation (ITF).
The then-24-year-old confirmed that he had never “deliberately or intentionally taken any banned substance in my career.”
Perhaps the only piece of favourable news in an otherwise dire situation was that the ban unfolded during the turbulent year of the Covid pandemic as the sport was forced into limbo and uncertainty. To Jarry’s credit, he used the time away from the professional circuit to refocus and rediscover his best tennis.
After a rather steady 2022 reaching five semi-finals on the challenger tour, it was only a matter of time before the Chilean would start to peak.
The past 10 months have witnessed obvious potential come to fruition, highlighted by two ATP titles, a win-loss record of 38-18 (68%), as well as taking down some of the best players in the world including the likes of Tsitsipas, Zverev, Rudd, and Dimitrov. A quarter-final showing at the Shanghai Masters confirmed that the world number 21 is a force to be reckoned with, precisely due to his ability to play short points and dominate with a monstrous forehand. At grand slam level, there has been an obvious improvement: Australian Open - Second round French Open - Fourth round Wimbledon - Third round US Open - Third round
All of those above results were achieved during 2023, demonstrating continual growth and perhaps even a new-found level of maturity. Eventual Wimbledon champion Carlos Alcaraz was tested to the limit in four tight sets where at times the Spaniard simply had no answers for Jarry’s dominance. Growing up on the clay courts in Chile, it’s rare to see a South American possess a solid game on all three surfaces, but that’s exactly the advantage that Jarry has in his back pocket.
The next step for him is to find a level of consistency. Cast your mind back to the recent grand slam in New York when Aussie Alex De Minaur completely dismantled Jarry 6-1 6-3 6-2 in an unexpected one-sided affair. That match highlighted the weakness in Jarry’s game where he was easily counter-punched and had the sting taken out of his powerful style of game.
When that part is neutralised, a plan B and C should be worked on in the upcoming off-season to discover some much-needed versatility. All in all, at 28, the comeback is officially in full swing for one of tennis’ most underrated stars.