Varillas Leads Semi-Final Line-Up At Ambato Challenger

Juan Pablo Varillas (photo: Sala de prensa/Armando Prado)

AMBATO/STARNBERG, September 25, 2021

The semi-finals of the Ambato La Gran Ciudad ATP Challenger Tour tournament are set. Top seed Juan Pablo Varillas of Peru will lead the line-up. The World No. 121 ended the run of Argentine qualifier Matias Zukas in the stage of the last eight on Friday.

Varillas saved seven of the eight break points he faced and capitalized on four of his own four break-point opportunities to secure a 6-2, 6-4 win in one hour and 39 minutes.

“I think it was my worst match so far in terms of consistency. I was solid at the baseline, but my serve was not fine compared to other days. I think the serve makes a big difference at this altitude here. Beyond that, it was a good match and I was able to win,” Varillas said.

The 25-year-old Lima native will next take on Argentine Juan Pablo Ficovich. The No. 6 seed of the $52,080 clay-court event recovered from a horrible start, rallying past Johan Nikles from Switzerland 0-6, 7-6(2), 7-5. Ficovich sent down six aces and won 74 per cent of his first-service points to prevail after two hours and four minutes.

Two Gauchos to meet in the semis

In the bottom half of the draw two Argentines will go head-to-head in the semi-finals, as seventh favourite Thiago Tirante will oppose in-form Facundo Mena. Tirante defeated Gerald Melzer from Austria 6-3, 6-4 after one hour and 23 minutes.

Mena, champion at last week’s Quito Challenger, edged past French lucky loser Alexis Gautier 7-6(7), 6-4. The World No. 269 fired 19 aces and won 90 per cent of his first-service points to advance after one hour and 29 minutes.

“It’s going to be a very tough match,” Mena said about his upcoming task. “Thiago has been playing pretty well and I need to have to give my best if I want to win.”

Tirante will also compete in Saturday’s doubles final. Alongside his partner Alejandro Gomez from Colombia, the 20-year-old from La Plata will face No. 3 seeds Diego Hidalgo from Ecuador and Colombian Cristian Rodriguez.