VILNIUS/STARNBERG, October 24, 2022
Following his triumph at the Saint-Tropez Open in Southern France two weeks ago, Italian Mattia Bellucci continued his winning streak in Lithuania by lifting the trophy of the inaugural €45,730 Vilnius Open by kevin on Sunday. The ATP Challenger Tour 80 tournament was held inside the SEB Arena, with 28 tennis courts the largest indoor tennis complex in central Europe.
Bellucci came back from a set down to outlast Turkish qualifier Cem Ilkel in the final 1-6, 6-3, 7-5. The 21-year-old capitalized on three of his five break-point chances to prevail after two hours and 32 minutes.
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The unseeded Italian battled his way to the championship match with wins in the top half of the draw over French qualifier Jules Marie, No. 6 seed Nerman Fatic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Zdenek Kolar from the Czech Republic and Viktor Durasovic of Norway.
“I am super happy, as I have played unbelievable tennis for two weeks,” said Bellucci after the final. “Twelve matches in a row, I am also a bit tired and it was difficult to find into the match. Then I had the opportunity to break him and I started to feel better. When you go up in the score, you mentally you feel more comfortable. It was super tight in the end. He had many more occasions than me. He was playing better in the third set but missed a couple of chances. At 5-5 I played two good games, which helped me to win.
At age 21, Bellucci is the youngest Italian to win Challenger titles in back-to-back weeks since a 19-year-old Stefano Pescosolido in 1991. He took away €6,190 in prize money as well as 80 ATP Ranking points.
“This was one of the best Challengers I have ever played due to the infrastructure and the organisation. Everything was perfect for the players,” said Bellucci.
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First-ever Challenger in Lithuania
Lithuania has become the 91st country to host a Challenger tournament.
“We started to think about having a Challenger in 2013. We made a trip to some Challengers in Europe and talked to the organisers there and finally, we are doing it. We are really happy and excited,” tournament director Ramūnas Grušas, who is the Lithuanian Tennis Federation president, told ATP Tour.com.
“During the Covid time, we built a new facility, including a Centre Court with 1,500 capacity. We built an extra six practice courts. Throughout the past year, we’ve made the venue really good for the players and spectators.
“We are not looking at this tournament for a really commercial side. We are looking to have good quality.”