Last winter, Ernesto Escobedo began a promising upward trend. At the 2017 Australian Open, the West Covina native made a rather improbable run on the Grand Slam stage after emerging from the tournament qualifier. In the opening round, Escobedo surprised the #63 ranked Daniil Medvedev in four sets, then took the first set from #23 David Ferrer in a tight four set loss.
When the spring bloom took him to Houston, Escobedo had broken the Top 100 when he met the imposing John Isner at an ATP Challenger, eliminating the high-ranked Isner in a match that reached a tiebreaker in all three sets. And by year’s end, having fallen to World #114, he’d upend budding poster boy and World #50 Denis Shapovalov in straight sets at Antwerp.
Fast forward to last month in Mexico, a couple weeks after taking US Open finalist Kevin Anderson to a decisive third set tiebreak in New York. Now opposite fellow American Jack Sock, the World #10 ranked player on the ATP Tour, here was Escobedo again facing a formidable challenge. Again, he’d turn away his competition with a 7-5, 7-6 win over Sock, a sign that Escobedo was on track for another season of growth and maturity.
“I’m coming in with a lot of confidence,” he said on Monday after an afternoon practice session at Indian Wells. “I’ve had a pretty good few weeks (leading up to the BNP Paribas Open).”
Of Mexican descent, Escobedo’s West Covina roots mean that Indian Wells is considered home turf, an opportunity for family and friends to travel about 90 minutes to see the rising star in action.
“This site is unbelievable,” Escobedo remarks, complimenting the pristine practice courts and the energy of a local crowd. It’s familiar territory for the 21 year old, who has been attending the event since he was 8 years old.
As he awaits the start of the Men’s Main Draw on Thursday, Escobedo (currently ranked #117) continues to live out a real-life fantasy.
“Playing here,” he says, “is a dream come true.”
The Men’s Draw will be announced later on Tuesday afternoon as the Qualifying Rounds continue.