Victor Estrella Burgos is making history — in more ways than one.
The 34-year-old tennis player will be the oldest person to make his debut at the U.S. Open when he takes to the courts in Flushing Meadows, New York, this week. He will also be the first Dominican to ever play in the Grand Slam Tournament.
According to The Washington Post, Estrella Burgos' unusual career trajectory makes him an unlikely competitor for the title. He originallly turned pro 12 years ago, but took a break from professional play to coach in the Dominican Republic for several years. He returned to tournament play in 2006, but didn't break into the top 100 until March of this year, when he won the ATP Challenger Tour title in Salinas, Ecuador.
In 2012, he suffered from a torn cartilage in his right elbow which sidelined him for six months — and forced him to consider retirement. Against all odds, he recovered, and came back better than ever.
"For me, it's something very special," he told Fox News Latino of the opportunity to play in the U.S. Open. "I have been coming here for many years, but falling short in qualifiers. It will be equally special to play in New York, because there are a lot of Dominicans here that will be watching me."
Estrella Burgos attributes his late peak to his lengthy experience as a player and coach. "It's been a tough road, but I have worked hard — breaking down barriers and opening doors for Dominicans playing tennis," he said.
"New York will be a very special tournament for me," he said. "There will be more Dominicans in the stands than there were in Roland Garros [French Open] or Wimbledon. And, I have those two Grand Slams under my belt."
"I am going to play with less pressure," he finished.