Queenstown tennis pro Ben McLachlan has surprised even himself that he’s finished the year ranked 18th-best doubles player in the world.
“At the start of the year, no way I thought I was going to finish the year 18, in fact it wasn’t really my goal.”
The 26-year-old, who’d only started his ATP-level career the prior October, albeit by winning the Japan Open, had hoped to be in the top 40 by now.
Twenty-three days into 2018, however, he and new partner, German Jan-Lennard Struff, made the semi-finals of the Australian Open grand slam, and his ranking catapulted from 73 to 36.
As a result, he got to play the world’s top tournaments, and has now smashed that ranking in half.
He made the quarters at Wimbledon and the semis and quarters at Masters events.
Then, in September/October, he won the Shenzhen Open, in China, with Brit Joe Salisbury, then the Japan Open again, this time with Struff, in consecutive weeks.
“Up until this year, I hadn’t really been making any money,” McLachlan says.
How that’s changed.
According to the ATP website, he’s won $600,000 this year, in Kiwi dollars, out of career earnings of $746,000.
Playing the big events, he admits “they take care of you really well”.
Though he’s ranked only two spots behind Kiwi star Michael Venus, McLachlan gets less press in NZ, probably because he switched to play for Japan, due to his mum’s nationality, in June last year.
Ironically, he beat Venus and his South African partner to win this year’s Japan Open.
McLachlan, who has his brother Riki on tour as his coach, says he’s felt little pressure this year.
“No one really knew me at the start of the year.”
He accepts it might get tougher next year as other players will now know him and be figuring out ways to beat him.
He’ll stick to pretty much the same schedule next year, though he might take a few more weeks off to recover physically and mentally.
Partnering Struff, he’ll build up for next month’s Aussie Open by playing the Brisbane International, in the first week of 2019, then he’ll play the ASB Classic in Auckland for the first time.
“I’m really excited for the next year,” he says.
“My aim is to just to keep improving and not worry about the rankings too much.”