After Chilean Alejandro Tabilo defeated American Denis Kudla 6-1, 7-6(0) on Friday at the BNP Paribas Open to earn his first main draw win at an ATP Master 1000 event, he jogged over to his team for lengthy embraces. It was an emotional moment for the 24-year-old, who has waited for a moment such as this on one of tennis’ biggest stages.
But it got even more emotional once he left the court and called his father Ricardo, mother Maria and brother Sebastian.
“My dad was just coming back from work. He was watching the whole thing at work. He was in the car so happy. My mom was at home with my brother and they were all yelling and ecstatic,” Tabilo told ATPTour.com. “For me, seeing everything they’ve done for me, I love seeing them happy with my results.”
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Family is everything for Tabilo. The No. 184 player in the FedEx ATP Rankings credits his parents, who met in Canada and still live in Toronto, for helping him get to this stage and motivating him daily.
“Jano” first was introduced to tennis earlier than he can remember. As a toddler, he would go with his father and brother to watch them play.
“From what my parents say I was always yelling and crying because I was too young to play,” Tabilo said. “But I remember always going to the club with my brother, waking up early. If the club wasn’t open, we would look for parks around to play in. I remember the struggle, the grind just to practise.”
Tabilo’s earliest memories are driving with his parents to those early-morning practices. His father owns a cleaning company, and often would get home so late that he would immediately wake Alejandro and go straight to practise.
“It was tough for them,” Tabilo said of his parents. “I always saw the sacrifices they made for me, so I’m always going to be thankful. All of this I always do for them. They are the first people I call and they’re always there with me.
“Everything I do is just trying to make them happy, show them that everything they worked for, all the sacrifices they made was worth something. It’s always something that is in the back of my head.”
Tabilo’s journey has not been a simple one. At 13, he moved to an academy in Florida, where he spent nearly a decade. Three years ago, he moved to Santiago.
“Most people are actually surprised that after going from Canada to the U.S. I moved to Chile. Everybody in Chile is like, ‘Why would you come here?’ Most of them say they look to leave Chile,” Tabilo said. “For me it’s been better because growing up with my Chilean family, South America is more about family, it’s more intimate. Everybody took me in really well. Even when I go there, it’s not an academy vibe. It’s like family. It’s like home.”
Alejandro Tabilo” />
Photo Credit: Mike Lawrence/ATP Tour
The Chilean is a hard worker who plays with a chip on his shoulder. When the lefty serves, you can see a tattoo on his upper arm. There is a lion with bands around it.
“My dad always wanted me to get a tattoo around there, so I wanted to do something a little more symbolic,” Tabilo said. “The bands represent more strength and the lion represents more courage, so it’s something I always want to show on court and be fierce.”
“There’s always hope and I’m coming with confidence,” the qualifier said. “I feel like I can do something.”
For those who watch Tabilo for the first time as he steps on court under the California sun, the 24-year-old does not want them to notice one stroke or physical part of his game. Instead, he hopes they notice his attitude.
“On court I’m always a fighter. I don’t like to lose. I’m always going to be there trying to get every point, every ball back. Like my family, I fight for everything,” Tabilo said. “It’s been tough to get up here, so I don’t take anything for granted.”