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Wimbledon

Wimbledon is the oldest tennis tournament in the world, and widely considered the most prestigious tennis championship. Held in London at the All England Club in Wimbledon since 1877, it is one only of four Grand Slam tennis tournaments along with the Australian, French and US Open events. Wimbledon is the only tennis tournament still played on grass, the game's original surface.

SportTennis

Janowicz on a high after reaching Wimbledon semi-finals

Polish star enjoys a change in fortunes, just two years after he couldn't afford to buy an air ticket

PUBLISHED : Friday, 05 July, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 05 July, 2013, 5:17am
 

Jerzy Janowicz was once so poor that New Yorkers coughed up to buy him tennis shoes at the US Open before his parents sold their sports shop to keep their son on the road.

Two years ago, when he was ranked at a lowly 221 in the world, the giant Pole didn't have the cash to buy an air ticket to the Australian Open and in his junior days, he even was offered fantastic riches to dump Poland and play for Qatar.

No wonder the 22-year-old native of Lodz collapsed in tears after beating compatriot Lukasz Kubot to reach his first grand slam semi-final at Wimbledon on Wednesday.

The victory made him the first Polish man to reach the last-four of a major while it also permanently banished his financial worries. As a semi-finalist he collects at least US$610,000.

"I was practising really tough my whole life. I had some troubles also during my career. You are practising and working for that kind of moment. It wasn't easy to control these emotions," said the 2.03m tall Pole.

Twelve months ago, Janowicz arrived at Wimbledon ranked 136 and had to qualify.

He made the third round and at the end of the year he had proved that performance was no fluke when he made the Paris Masters final, again having to come through the qualifiers.

He defeated Andy Murray, his opponent in today's semi-finals, on the way and finished 2012 at 26 in the world. Suddenly those penniless days travelling and sleeping in his car to save money were over.

His volatile character, which saw him throw spectacular strops at the Australian Open and Wimbledon, has made him a huge star in Poland. His run to the Paris final even inspired a Polish rap song.

But sudden fame and fortune have not changed Janowicz, now world No22, said Davis Cup teammate Mariusz Fyrstenberg.

"He's a very funny guy," Fyrstenberg said of his patriotic countryman who has not missed a Davis Cup tie since 2008.

"In Indian Wells this year, we went to play golf. This was his first time on the course, so I tried to teach him all the basics about golf etiquette. But I forgot to tell him that he cannot drive his golf cart on to the green.

"So, I see that he had parked just one metre away from the hole and is relaxing there. I then saw this woman come up and give him some advice. So when I got to the green, I asked 'What did she tell you?' He said, 'Can you believe that the woman was teaching me how to drive?'."

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