They won’t give up: Thiemo DeBakker


By Scoop Malinowski

The Dutch junior star won the Wimbledon boys title in 2006 (def. Marcin Gawron). He reached a career high singles ATP ranking of 40 in 2010 when he reached two ATP Tour semifinals (Barcelona and New Haven).

DeBakker also has career wins over Tomas Berdych, John Isner (at Wimbledon 2R after the Isner vs Mahut marathon) and Jo Tsonga. He reached the third round at Roland Garros in 2010.

But since then, DeBakker, now age 29, has fallen. He’s been stuck outside the top 100 range for half a decade now though he did hit 99 last May. But since last May, DeBakker has crashed, all the way to 601 earlier this year. This week he’s at 418 and grinding it out on the Futures circuit.

This week DeBakker is playing the $25,000 ITF Futures in Egypt where he is the #3 seed.

This year DeBakker has won Futures titles and even won a Davis Cup match vs Lukas Rosol in four sets. But he also lost to Jiri Vesely in the same tie, a five set heartbreaker 64 36 64 46 46.

You have to give Thiemo DeBakker a lot of credit for continuing his ATP pursuits at age 29 on the outer reaches of the Futures circuit in Egypt.

Four years ago DeBakker reached the semis of Bastad, beating Berdych before losing to Carlos Berlocq.

Does DeBakker have it in him to reach another ATP semifinal – or better? Or is he hopelessly stuck forever in tennis limbo, destined to finish out his career in Futures and Challengers?

Like Goran Ivanisevic once said about his best friend Marc Rosset’s potential to be a top ten player, “I know he can do it. But he has to know. He has to know it.”

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  • Doogie · October 17, 2017 at 6:17 pm

    BTW: As we talk about players not giving up:

    Spadea is now playing challenger doubles match in Las Vegas against Novikov/Hach!!

  • Doogie · October 17, 2017 at 6:23 pm

    About de Bakker it is lot more about to talk: He was (still is?? I dont know) problems with gambling (casinos) and he had a huge, huge alcohol problem.

    He even drunk the night (whole) night before matches, tbh he nearly drunk every day.

    He had to come away from the bottle, find his own personality – due to this he was away from the sports a while. Some people doubt he will ever win his fight against alcohol.

    If u consider all this he made a lot out of his tenns – but what would have been possible??

  • Scoop Malinowski · October 17, 2017 at 6:55 pm

    Scoop Malinowski writes:

    Spadea looked surprisingly good Doogie. His partner Lickle is the COO of Wilander on Wheels with his buddy Mats and he played at Navy but he never won a single ATP point and his last ATP match was a Futures doubles match in 2009 so clearly he was the weak link. But they battled to a 63 64 loss which is respectable. Vince looked good and clearly competitive with tough Hach's lefty serve and Novikov's big serve. Lickle looked a little bit out of place on some shots though he did play very well on certain others. Good match to watch!

  • Scoop Malinowski · October 17, 2017 at 6:58 pm

    Scoop Malinowski writes:

    Doogie, I had never heard this information about DeBakker though he is not a player the media or any insiders talk about much. I did a Biofile with Thiemo a few years ago at US Open and found him to be pretty quiet and low key and possibly introverted. He did not seem happy with the tour life or perhaps he was in a deep slump and his competitive confidence was at a low point. The fact he's out there still battling in a place like Egypt is a sign that he is committed to rebuilding his broken career and I am hopeful that he can do it. Everyone loves an underdog who just won't quit.

  • catherine · October 18, 2017 at 4:14 am

    Everyone talks about drugs in tennis but alcohol is never mentioned. It’s probably not a problem so much as in some other sports (rugby,cricket, maybe baseball in US ?) but it does exist – I’ve heard of a couple of men and one woman whose careers were affected by drink.
    Of course booze is socially acceptable. And most players are abstemious – but not all, obviously from de Bakker’s sad story.

  • dan markowitz · October 18, 2017 at 8:43 am

    That’s incredible Spadea came back and played a Challenger doubles match. Sounds by Scoop’s eye, he looked pretty good too. I wonder why he came back with Lickle a guy who wasn’t even a Challenger level player. I’m not in touch with Vince anymore, but I wonder if this is the start of Vince trying to make it for a few years as a doubles player.

    I doubt it because at 43 where would it go and I think Vince is doing well with his modeling agency, but it’s still pretty interesting and until Doogie brought it to our attentions, no one seemed to know about it.

  • dan markowitz · October 18, 2017 at 8:46 am

    McKenzie McDonald seems to be on a roll these days. He’s not playing Las Vegas where the Koz beat Aragone, and has had a decent run after his US Open Qualis First Round flop.

    How about Brydan Klein taking out Frantangelo. Sets up a nice match with Evan King now and how about the two Brits locking horns, Norrie and Broady. Some good matches out there in LV.

  • Scoop Malinowski · October 18, 2017 at 12:28 pm

    Scoop Malinowski writes:

    Alcohol and tennis do not mix well though I did hear Safin had a lot of vodka in the locker room after he won the US Open. A lot. And a few years ago also in the US Open locker room where they have a running soda and beer dispenser, one morning the beer one had not been refilled and Johnny Mac was pretty annoyed when he went for a fill up at 10:45 am just before going on the air.

  • Scoop Malinowski · October 18, 2017 at 12:36 pm

    Scoop Malinowski writes:

    Vince looked very good actually. You saw the flashes of Vince brilliance with the backhand winners and the volleys and the movement on a few of those crazy points. I hit with Harry Cicma today and he said Lickle was just an okay junior from New England, ranked just outside top 20 in New England section, didn't play Kalamazoo because he wasn't good enough, played no. 5 at Navy which is good but not really special. He said I would have a shot to beat him the way I'm playing now. The question is why did Vince pick him as a partner? If Vince can find the right partner he could do some damage in the Challengers, based on what he showed yesterday.

  • Scoop Malinowski · October 18, 2017 at 12:38 pm

    Scoop Malinowski writes:

    Klein desperately needed that win over Frantangelo and it is a very good valuable win for him. Evan King is lower ranked than Fratangelo but he's had a good year, his best year as a pro and he's a lefty and I suspect Klein does not like to play lefties, as we saw against lefty Millot at US Open qualies.

  • dan markowitz · October 18, 2017 at 2:23 pm

    I’m proud of Vince. I know it’s a Challenger in Las Vegas and not a real tour event, but even to get to the point/level to be able at 43, like eight years after his last pro event, to be able to play another pro event against a guy like Novikov who hits a big ball, is quite an achievement. It shows that Vince is still in pretty good shape and loves the game.

    I imagine he picked Lickle because a. it took less pressure to play with a lower-level player like Lickle because then there were no expectations; b. I’ve met Lickle and he seems like a super nice guy and c. Vince doesn’t really hang so much in tennis circles, especially guys playing on the tour anymore, and I doubt he knows many guys he could’ve teamed up with. I wonder if this was Vince’s idea or Lickle’s?

  • Scoop Malinowski · October 18, 2017 at 3:40 pm

    Scoop Malinowski writes:

    Vince looked like the best player on the court at times. Hach and Novikov had better serves though. A few times Lickle made bad mistakes and Vince kind of walked by him bypassing the fist bump between points though it wasn't blatant but it did suggest slight disgust, like, Cmon man you gotta make that shot. Lickle looked edgy and at times like he didn't belong. After all t his was his first ATP challenger event at age 36. He was a fish out of water at this level and it showed though he did play some fine tennis at times but he was the weak link for sure. I would guess Lickle had to talk Vince into playing this event. If Vince was partner hunting I think he could have come up with a better player than Lickle, but then again Vince could be a total outsider who keeps his distance from any and all former and current ATP pros. This match reminds me of three years ago when Hugo Armando and Julian Alonso got a WC into Sarasota Open doubles and played pretty well also on center court losing by a similar score as Vince did yesterday. Hope Vince keeps plugging because he looks good and he showed he can hang. I think he could play better than some of these doubles scavengers like Cerretani and Purav and Shamasdin. Evan King and Vince could make a good team.

  • Dan Markowitz · October 18, 2017 at 7:13 pm

    How about Vince and Leander?

  • Scoop Malinowski · October 18, 2017 at 7:18 pm

    Scoop Malinowski writes:

    That's a good idea. I know and have played tennis with Narendra Singh who was India Davis Cup captain and is good friends with Paes. Will drop him an email to suggest this partnership. Paes is doing ok with Purev right now though.

  • Scoop Malinowski · October 18, 2017 at 9:55 pm

    Scoop Malinowski writes:

    By the way, DeBakker lost first round in Egypt in three sets, he won the first then lost 64 61 to David Jorda Sanchis who is ranked 692. Kozlov beat Koepfer today 64 61 in Vegas and the Kozlov brothers won their doubles vs Norrie and another Brit 64 64. I believe that is the first pro match win for the Kozlovs as a doubles team. Klahn is looking very good, he beat Mmoh 63 in the third. Klahn looks capable of getting back to 63 in the world at age 27 now.

  • Doogie · October 19, 2017 at 7:03 pm


    I am not really surprised about Vince playing well in this doubles match. A player like Vince who had a long and successful career can easily play challender doubles tournament.

    Last week Bernardo Oliveira and Akram ElSallaly were in the doubles final in Fairfield. Vince will have their tennis level even with age 50.

    The way greater “problem” in sports is cocaine. Tennis players and even in US Sports (icehockey!) it is used a lot.

  • Scoop Malinowski · October 19, 2017 at 9:33 pm

    Scoop Malinowski writes:

    Doogie; Vince should play again and keep going with this comeback or whatever it is. He played better than I expected. Cocaine is prevalent for sure and it is a performance enhancing drug.

  • Dan Markowitz · October 20, 2017 at 1:43 am

    Klein lost again, this time to Evan King, 3 sets, it’s usually the same old story for Klein, win the first set in a breaker and then lose the next two, always keeping it tight. I think at this stage, Klein should think about retiring. He’ll be 28 at the end of the year, he’s no. 146 and it’s been four years since he reached his career best of no. 118. The guy as far as I can see it, doesn’t have the game to crack the top 100. He’s been on tour for a decade now and while he’s a hell of a player, he doesn’t have the groundies to compete at the highest level or a serve that wins him a lot of free points.

    He gets into Wimby each year on a wildcard, but he’s never qualied for a slam and his body looks like it breaks down a lot. He might just love to compete, but I haven’t seen him making any headway this year.

  • Scoop Malinowski · October 20, 2017 at 8:53 am

    Scoop Malinowski writes:

    Dan, Victor Estrella Burgos was the same range kind of player, stuck outside top 100 forever, perennial qualifier loser and then he finally figured it out and cracked the top 100 at age 33 and then won three ATP singles titles all in Quito. Klein is close to that kind of breakthrough just like Estrella Burgos. How could he quit being so close? He's only a red hot month away from the top 75. He just has to believe. Good win yesterday for Klein in doubles with Joe Salisbury beating the Kozlov Brothers 76 46 10-3. Younger Kozlov was the weak link with his serve and inexperience though they did win a round the day before 64 64 over Norrie Broady.

  • Dan Markowitz · October 20, 2017 at 12:26 pm

    I just don’t think Klein is going to follow in Burgos’s shoes or path. I look at his body and he looks a little knock-kneed and his back looks tight. I know Burgos is a small dude, but physically he looks very fit. To make it later in your career, you have to have a fit body, a body that belies a player’s elevated age and years on tour.

    Nice win by Broady over Norrie in Las Vegas. This is going to be interesting to see who wins this event as Broady, Tennys, Opelka, the Koz and the King brothers are all still in the draw with Klahn.

    Two great names out of the Futures circuit, Strong Kirchmeir and Danny Thomas.



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