Joris Del Loore and Daniil Mevedev met in 2016 at the St. Remy Challenger final. Both men were not ranked in the Top 150 at that time, but their careers took very different paths.
Medvedev won that meeting on French soil and collected his lone Challenger title several years before winning the 2021 US Open and becoming the sport’s top-ranked player the following year.
De Loore’s journey has been a difficult, injury-plagued career that forced him to stop playing tennis for two years (2019-2020). Six different body parts were treated by the Belgian.
“Over seven consecutive years, every year I’ve had a surgery,” De Loore said. “The last surgery was at the end of 2020, my left hip. If I had to tell you all my injuries, we’d be here for an hour!”
After surgeries on his left knee (two surgeries), wrist, hip, and right elbow, hand, and toe, De Loore didn’t just throw in the towel and call it a career. He spent hours on the tennis court, where he was able to do physical training. This only fuelled his desire for a comeback.
“I never really thought about quitting,” De Loore said. “It must’ve crossed my mind, but I sort of knew it was still possible [to play professionally again]. After my left hip, I had mixed feelings, because that wasn’t a minor surgery but luckily everything went well.”
De Loore, 29, has been playing Futures and Challenger events over the past two seasons. De Loore qualified at the Oeiras-1 Challenger this week in his first tournament of 2023. He didn’t stop there. He only dropped one set during the week to win his maiden Challenger title.
In his semi-final match against Turkey’s Cem Ilkel, De Loore kept his title hopes alive as he fended off a match point in the third-set tie-break before converting his sixth match point to advance to his second Challenger final.
Joris De Loore is awarded his first Challenger title in Oeiras (Portugal). />Joris De Loore in action at the Oeiras Indoor 1. Credit: FPT/Sara Falcao
De Loore became (29 years, 8 month) the oldest Challenger Tour winner since 2015, when Italian Luca Vanni took home his maiden title at 31.
“It feels really good,” De Loore said in his post-match press conference. “After quite a long time of not being able to play, this feeling is really good. After much hard work, I finally won the Challenger.
“The title will give me a boost. I really feel physically good, playing well, and now it’s just a matter of trying to stay healthy. I think this year can be my year.”
De Loore’s determination has kept his career alive. De Loore may choose to retire from professional playing and take up coaching or another role within the sport. But he has kept his head high and learned the lessons along the way.
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“Less is more, not always wanting to do the maximum [is what I’ve learned],” De Loore said. “Sometimes it’s about being able to say let’s give it a rest, not always going over the limits, and listening to what your body is saying.”
Now that he has his first Challenger title under his belt, the 6’3” Belgian has his eyes set on another career milestone.
“I want to prove that I’m able to reach the Top 100,” De Loore said. “I still feel capable of it, doesn’t mean I’m going to make it for sure, but I still have the game to do it.”
Joris de Loore wins the Challenger 50 event at Oeiras, Portugal. />