SPLIT, October 4, 2020
Following eight title wins on the ITF World Tennis Tour, Francisco Cerundolo has clinched his first trophy on the ATP Challenger Tour by winning the inaugural Split Open. The 22-year-old from Argentina fought past top seed Pedro Sousa from Portugal by the score of 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(4) in Sunday’s singles final at the Tennis Club Friule.
Cerundolo, who advanced to the championship match of the €44,820 clay-court event with wins over US-Americans Ernesto Escobedo and Brandon Nakashima, as well as Germany’s Maximilian Marterer and Croatian teenager Duje Adjukovic, won one point more than his opponent to secure victory in one hour and 50 minutes.
Final is set in Split…
🇵🇹 Pedro Sousa vs. 🇦🇷 Francisco Cerundolo
🔸 Cerundolo: First career final at age 22 pic.twitter.com/AD3zWDNNQ3
— ATP Challenger Tour (@ATPChallenger) October 3, 2020
“I am really happy, as it was a tough match against a great player,” Cerundolo said afterwards. “I was solid at the beginning but didn’t play too aggressive. After losing the first set, I started to attack more, took some risk and in the end it paid off.”
Cerundolo had to chance to serve the match out twice in the third set but needed to go into the decider to finish the encounter. “I was really nervous in these moments and couldn’t move my legs. It was my first final. Being one game away from winning the title, there were a lot of things in my mind but I am happy to win the match in the tie-break.”
The World No. 223 also struggled physically, as four of his five matches went the distance this week in Croatia. “Today was the first match when I started to feel tired, that’s why I took more risk and hopefully this was the key for the match,” Cerundolo said.
After a couple of windy days on the shore of the Adriatic Sea, the final took place under bright blue sky with temperatures of more than 25 degrees Celsius. “Compared to the days before it was very fast today. Yesterday it was impossible to play due to the wind. We had to cope with different conditions throughout the week and I am really happy that I passed them all.”
Cerundolo pocketed €6,190 in prize money as well as 80 ATP Ranking points and will crack the Top 200 for the first time when the new rankings will be released.
Up next for the South American will be the ATP Challenger tournament at the Sanchez-Casal Academy in Barcelona, Spain. “I will have a rest in the hotel, just celebrate one day and tomorrow I will travel to Barcelona, playing my first match on Tuesday. Let’s see what’s going to happen.”