You’ll often hear tennis players saying that rankings are just a number. Belgian youngster Zizou Bergs, ranked No 528 in the world, certainly didn’t pay heed to that number, as he took on World No 45 Albert Ramos-Vinolas in the opening round of the European Open in Antwerp on Tuesday evening.
Bergs, who entered the Antwerp event as a wildcard, defeated the 32-year-old Ramos Vinolas 7-5, 7-5 in his first Tour-level match.
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“I’m definitely a guy who loves emotions,” said the 21-year-old after playing a fearless match against an opponent with a lot more experience.
“I have amazing friends, amazing family and I’m playing at home in Belgium, in Antwerp. I just love the emotions. I love screaming it out. I love to see [the fans’] reactions,” he added.
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“It’s just really why I want to play tennis, because I like the atmosphere… those are things that I live for. It’s the way I want to play, it’s the way I want to enjoy the games and it’s my nature, so I just love the atmosphere.”
Bergs, who has a career high ranking of 386, may not be one of the best known youngsters in tennis. But he was in the news during the lockdown for helping out with social causes.
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The Belgian made face masks himself and even rode over 200 kilometeres to deliver them to people in need.
“I had launched an appeal whether there was a demand for homemade face masks,” Zizou Bergs was quoted as saying by Dutch publication Tennis Plaza back in April.
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“A lot of fans all over Belgium reacted positively and then the idea came to me to deliver the masks at home. It was an impulsive decision and without training I put myself on a 220 km bike ride.”
He rode from his home in Limburg province to Antwerp and back.
“I was a bit nervous for the trip. The longest distance I had ever traveled was 55 km and I was wondering if I would make it,” he had said.
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“In the end it was also a super good mental training for me as I cycled 160 km alone. So I realized that I mainly have to live in the here and now in order to enjoy such a long bike ride in a pleasant way. And of course I could make a lot of people happy with a small service, so it became a win-win situation. ”
Zizou Bergs will face third seed Karen Khachanov in the second round.