Victor Estrella Burgos would have to be one of the most inspiring Tennis Professionals the game has ever seen and personally I love to hear stories about guys like Victor as it is like a fairy-tale.
I first wrote about the little fellow from the Dominican Republic in August last year as I read some information about him that I thought was both fascinating and sad at the same time.
To not have enough funds to chase your sporting dream, or any dream in life is one of those things that make you appreciate success and hard work even more when someone finally breaks through with a win. 'Tennis, A Rich Person's Sport' was a post that I published again last November because it typifies the sport in general and as I mentioned in that post, Victor turned pro at the same age that Borg retired with more money than he knew what to do with.
The Ecuador Open began in 2015, Victor Estrella Burgos basically 'owns' the Tournament, no risk at all as he is the only Mens Singles winner in the three year history of it and he has done it the hard way.
In the first year of the tournament he just squeaked by Lopez 7-6 in the third set. In 2016 he came from a set down to pinch the second in a tie breaker before going away with a 6-2 win in the third against Bellucci.
Just yesterday Victor won another third set tie breaker to win the tournament, this time against Lorenzi which leads us to believe he may just be a 'big moment player' as he won 6-7, 7-6, 7-6 against the number 1 seed Karlovic in the Round of 16. The final set tie breaker finished at 10-8 to the fearless 5 foot 7" little guy who doesn't know how to give up.
I believe the reason I like Victor so much is that he teaches the older players that you can still match it with the younger players if you keep fit and you keep believing. I also love his style, not unlike my favourite player of the 80's Mats Wilander of Sweden, complete with a sliced backhand that is almost a throw back to that era.
I believe Victor hits a harder forehand than Mats ever did but as far as the rest of their games are concerned, it's strikingly similar with tenacity being the number one element in the way they both played the game.
Does it prove that a player can still win without heavy topspin off both sides on the Pro Tour ? Well it's unusual that a pro tennis player can be effective in singles with a predominantly sliced backhand because usually a player who hits big off both sides will simply overpower the player who may play a slightly more 'reactive' game.
Estrella Burgos proves that a tennis brain can make up for lack of big hitting though his forehand at times is as lethal as most top 20 players in the World and he makes it count when the opportunity arises.
He can hit an effective one handed topspin backhand though it's not his first choice, he simply uses it only when he needs it. If you aren't going to set up too many points with it, then why not vary it ?
I have read the latest on Victor on the ATP site and his prize money total for this year is just under $150,000 to add to his total of just under two million dollars, not bad for an 'old bloke' who is quite possibly setting himself up for retirement in the coming years. I believe Victor will make a small fortune when he goes back to coaching the sport in his home town where he saved his coaching money initially to fund his dream.
Some pro tennis players are happy to cruise through their careers and make a few million here and there without winning too much such is the huge amount of money on offer particularly in the Slams where you can become 'half a millionaire' by winning three or four matches.
Yet if you watch this guy play he does it as though his life depends on every point, every game, every match, he's an older version of Rafa though not quite as talented.
He earns every dollar he gets and he is still making up for lost time, inspiring.........