CORDENONS, August 18, 2018 (by David Provan)
After breaking into new territory already this week by reaching both the quarter- and semi-final stages of the Acqua Dolomia Tennis Cup, young Hungarian Mate Valkusz went one better today by reaching the tournament final.
Valkusz, who had to come through the qualification, swept aside his experienced Brazilian opponent Guilherme Clezar in straight sets, 6-2,6-4, meaning he is yet to drop a single set in his main draw matches. Having destroyed his previous two opponents for the loss of just a single game, Valkusz was relentless yet again and threatened Clezar early on before earning two decisive breaks towards the end of the set. He showed superb composure in serving out the set but suffered an early break in the second.
However, the youngster showed grit and determination to immediately break Clezar back and produced an array of winners that had the 500 or so fans in attendance cheering and applauding. The gap in quality started to show more and more and with the Brazilian under intense and increasing pressure he finally folded to concede his serve at 4 games all. Valkusz professionally served the match out and was even happier to do so in front of his family, who had travelled from home to watch him. Amazingly, the former junior number one admitted he had no expectation or idea he would get so far.
“To be honest I thought I was going to lose in qualifications. I wasn’t playing well and my head was not here but I think I’ve got better and better and more confident as the week has gone on,” he said afterwards. Valkusz has suffered from injuries (specifically his shoulder) over the past two years that have undoubtedly delayed his inevitable progress, but is now hopeful this is behind him. “I think I’m getting more and more fit with every week so let’s see what happens next.”
Lorenzi advances on home soil
The man he will now face however, Paolo Lorenzi, is a Challenger Tour veteran who is well accustomed to finals at this level, having won in Sopot only a couple of weeks previously.
The Italian number one seed was made to fight though after an epic first set with his Portuguese opponent Joao Domingues that ended in bizarre fashion. After earlier saving a set point and then entering a tie break, the Portuguese mistakenly celebrated having won the set, believing Lorenzi’s return had gone wide. To his amazement the umpire ruled in Lorenzi’s favour and the Italian, roared on by the home faithful, subsequently took the next two points to take the breaker 11-9.
In a contest high on quality the second set was no exception with both men holding serve consistently until Lorenzi gained the vital break at 5 games all. In a match where millimetres made the difference, Domingues battled gamely but was ultimately outlasted by the wily campaigner who held to take the match 7-6, 7-5 in front of the adoring home fans.