For the first time ever, Argentina has the top-ranked tennis player in the world. Of course, this new number one ranking is a bit unconventional: it comes in the form of wheelchair tennis, courtesy of Gustavo Fernandez.
The 23-year-old Paralympic superstar dubbed “El Lobito” took over the number one spot in the singles rankings of wheelchair tennis for the first time this week, overtaking the United Kingdom’s Gordon Reid.
So far this year, Fernandez has won the Australian Open, and he finished second at the French Open in Roland Garros. Outside of Grand Slams, he also won the French Super Series, and played well in the Melbourne, Korea and L’Ille De Ré tournaments. This new wave of 2017 success is nothing new for the native Cordovan; Fernandez also has three medals in the Pan American Games and won the trophy at Wimbledon 2015 in the men’s doubles category.
Like any other 23-year-old, Fernandez took to social media to express his joy with being recognized as the best in his sport. He tweeted “Un dia muy especial,” alongside a photo of the rankings. He also took to Instagram with a beautiful photo of himself lining up a serve with a quote underneath that read “You asked for my hustle, I gave you my heart. Because it came with so much more.”
At the tender age of 18 months, Fernandez suffered a spinal infraction, leaving him disabled from the waist down. He didn’t let that stop his athletic dreams however; El Lobito started practicing tennis at the age of six and, at 12, he began his professional career, enrolling in the Argentine Tennis Association to be a junior player. This falls in line with his heritage, as Fernandez comes from an athletic background: his father–who shares the “Lobito” nickname–was a very successful basketball player in the Argentinian professional league in the 1990s and early 2000s.
Starting Thursday, the younger Fernandez will debut his number one ranking on the Wimbledon lawn, where he seeks to continue his excellent form on the way to picking up his second Grand Slam title of the year.