SPLIT, October 2, 2020
Croatian teenager Duje Ajdukovic continues his great run of form on home soil this week by reaching the semi-finals of the €44,820 Split Open. The 19-year-old knocked off No. 2 seed Jozef Kovalik from Slovakia 6-2, 6-4 on sunny but windy Friday afternoon on the eastern shore of the Adriatic Sea.
In front of his home crowd on Center Court at the Tennis Club Firule, Ajdukovic capitalized on five of his nine break point opportunities to prevail after one hour and 12 minutes.
“Conditions were hard today. The one, who adapted better, would win this match” said Ajdukovic, who is making his debut on the ATP Challenger Tour this week. “Ranking-wise this has been my best win so far, but I also had good wins the days before.”
The World No. 462, who was born in Split and arrived in his hometown fresh off lifting his second ITF World Tennis Tour trophy of the season in Curtea de Arges, Romania, advanced to the stage of the final eight following wins over Joao Menezes from Brazil and No. 6 seed Martin Klizan of Slovakia. “I knew that I would have the level but I haven’t had the chance to play against these type of players. I didn’t know what to expect. I stay calm and it helps a lot playing in front my people here. This my club.”
Impressive debut for 🇭🇷 teen Duje Ajdukovic in Split.
— ATP Challenger Tour (@ATPChallenger) October 1, 2020
Ajdukovic usually practices in Zagreb and describes his own game style as being an “all-round player“, who prefers to hit backhand shots. In his second-round match on Thursday, the wild card entry was watched by Goran Ivanisevic, another Split native. Ajdukovic, however, didn’t feel any pressure competing in front of one of the country’s most successful tennis player.
“He greeted me yesterday and we saw each other. He wished me good luck,” Ajdukovic said and will next take on Francisco Cerundolo of Argentina. The 22-year-old from Buenos Aires battled past Maximilian Marterer of Germany 7-6(6), 3-6, 7-6(2) in the longest match of the day. Cerundolo won three points less than his opponent but secured victory in two hours and 37 minutes.
With Borna Gojo another local wild card entry has booked his spot the semi-finals. The 22-year-old edged out Alessandro Giannessi of Italy, winning 6-3, 6-3. Gojo, another player from Croatia’s second-largest city Split, sent down four aces and won 79 per cent of his first-service points to advance after one hour and 11 minutes. Gojo will play top seed Pedro Sousa for place in his first Challenger title match. Sousa, ranked World No. 113 from Portugal, beat Argentina’s Tomas Martin Etcheverry 6-4, 7-6(7). The encounter lasted one hour and 43 minutes.