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TENNESSEE TO THE TOP-100: THE RISE OF ADAM WALTON



As of this week, Adam Walton has become the ninth Australian man currently inside the ATP top 100, placing the nation behind only the USA for top-end men’s depth.

 

Walton made it eighteen wins from his past twenty-two matches on Saturday with a deciding set triumph over Illya Marchenko in Taipei to secure a double-digit ranking for the first time.

 

 

The Aussie – who graduated from the University of Tennessee in 2022 – was initially unsure as to his potential at tour level but has soared up tennis’ pyramid over the past twenty-two months.

 

Two years ago, I had no ranking. I didn't really know what the future held in terms of tennis,” Walton told The First Serve.

 

I started out in the ‘futures’ not knowing how long I was going to continue playing, so to be in the top 100 within two years is crazy.”

 

Despite the rapid rise, Walton’s journey to date has been an intriguing one; and one which may become increasingly common for Australian players.

 

After an initial stint at ITF level across 2015 and 2016 (amassing a 2-6 record), the Brisbane local commenced his college career and education in 2017 and played only a handful of tour matches during his five-year degree.

 

However, since completing his study, specialising in human body movement, Walton has gone from strength to strength on the professional tour, progressing from ITF to Challenger to now ATP and Grand Slam level.

The quick ascension has been a result of two key factors, beginning with a transformation in the 25-year-old’s game to become more offensively minded.

 

When I came out of college, I was more of a defensive player. I made a lot of balls and it got me through a lot of matches,” Walton revealed.

 

But at the higher end, you have to actually go out and go for shots. So, I’m playing a more aggressive brand these days.

 

If you compare my game from six months ago, I’m a different player.”

 

And equally important, the 2021 NCAA doubles champion takes pride in his consistent competitiveness throughout the demanding tennis calendar.

 

I feel one of my best traits is being able to go week in, week out and bring a good level, so I know I’m giving myself a lot of opportunities to reach semis, finals and have chances to compete for titles,” the Aussie said.

 

That characteristic has seen Walton win more matches than any other player at ATP Challenger level in 2024 (with a 30-11 start), whilst also leading the Challenger tour in both matches played (81) and wins (54) over the past twelve months.

 

After tournaments in Australia, USA, Mexico, India, China, and Taiwan already this year, Walton is set to compete in his fifth continent for the season when he takes to Roland Garros next week.

 

The Queenslander was awarded the reciprocal Australian main draw wildcard and will have the opportunity to contest his first Grand Slam off home soil.

 

In a prime example of tennis’ chaotic schedule, Walton’s successful run in Taiwan meant he was unable to play this week’s ATP 250 event in Geneva, leaving him with no clay court preparation heading into Paris.

 

It was a good problem to have. I can’t get a lead up match going into the French [Open], but you’ll take a title any day of the week.”

 

Walton – who has also confirmed his place in the 2024 Wimbledon main draw – will be playing just his third professional match on clay when he commences his Roland Garros campaign.

 

The world number 95 will be one of nine men and eleven total Aussies (plus potential qualifiers) in singles action next week, where Walton will seek his maiden Grand Slam victory.

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