Altmaier Kicks Off Todi Challenger Main Draw

TODI, August 17, 2020

Main draw action at the €88,520 Internazionali Di Tennis Citta Di Todi kicked off on a sunny and hot Monday afternoon at the Tennis Club Todi 1971. It was almost 40 degrees Celsius in the Italian province of Perugia when the players hit the courts for the opening round of an ATP Challenger event for first time since mid-March.

The tournaments, however, have also entered the “new normality”. Strict safety and health rules apply. Masks must be worn at the entire venue. The organizers of the clay-court event have also introduced a “seat separation” policy in response to coronavirus. That means that every second of the about 300 seats on Center Court will be left unoccupied. Not a big deal on the first day of competition, as only a few spectators exposed themselves to the heat in Umbria. Besides the players, three line umpires, three ball kids and the chair umpire are on court. Hand sanitisers will be used during every changeover.

Altmaier advances

Players are eager to return to the match court. Germany’s Daniel Altmaier overcame a rusty start to fight past No. 8 seed Lorenzo Giustino of Italy, winning 3-6, 6-3, 6-2. The 21-year-old from Kempen capitalized on five of his 13 break point chances to prevail after two hours and 18 minutes.

“I am happy with the result today, but not with my performance,” Altmaier told Tennis TourTalk after the match. “I didn’t start well and it was more of fight than a nice win. I served well and I opened the points in a solid way. When I started to improve my forehand, it felt easier to hit my backhand down the line. That was key today.”

The World No. 219 seems to enjoy his stay in Todi. “The atmosphere is pretty nice. Of course you have to wear a mask but that’s good. During a tournament week, I usually do not spend too much time at the venue. It’s all about the right behaviour of our entire community. It is not recommended to go out for dinner and crowds should be avoided,” said Altmaier and added that the ATP does not dictate any rules.

Staying in the Italian “bubble”

All players must submit to testing and receive a negative Covid-19 result before competing. “I arrived on Thursday, as I was supposed to play the qualifying. Main draw players will be tested on Saturday. Another test will follow on Friday at the same tournament or on Thursday at the following event. Testing takes place every five of six days,” Altmaier explained. “The biggest hurdle are actually the travel restrictions. The draw for the upcoming Italian events in Trieste and Cordenons will probably look similar, as the players do not want to leave the country and want to stay in the bubble.”

Here in Todi, the 21-year-old will next take on Italy’s Gian Marco Moroni, who beat Spanish teenager Carlos Alcaraz Garfia 6-3, 7-6(3) after one hour and 51 minutes. Altmaier is one of three German players competing in the Italian city, which is perched on a tall two-crested hill overlooking the east bank of the river Tiber.

His compatriot Cedrik-Marcel Stebe also advanced to the second round. The No. 4 seed eased past Italian qualifier Andrea Vavassori 6-1, 6-3 in one hour and five minutes. Up next for Stebe will be Frenchman Elliot Benchetrit, who beat Facundo Mena of Argentina 6-1, 6-4. The encounter lasted one hour and 25 minutes.

Top two seeds step into action on Tuesday

Roberto Carballes Baena, the top seed of the ATP Challenger 100 event, will open his title bid on Tuesday against Austrian young gun Jurij Rodionov, who already clinched two Challenger trophies this year at the RBC Tennis Championships of Dallas in the United States and the Morelos Open Credito Real in Mexico.

No. 2 seed Marco Cecchinato will begin his home campaign against Andrea Collarini of Argentina. The 27-year-old Italian is a three-time champion on the ATP Tour and reached a career-high ranking of World No. 16 in February 2019. Collarini celebrated his maiden triumph on the ATP Challenger Tour in nearby L’Aquila last year.