By Florian Heer
(August 14, 2013) Cordenons, Italy – The tenth ATP Challenger event played in Italy this year is the tenth edition of the Friuladria Crédit Agricole Tennis Cup in Cordenons, a municipality located in the Province of Pordenone in the region Friuli-Venezia Giulia. Cordenons only has a population of about 20.000 people and most of the player hotels are located outside in the city centre of Pordenone. The tournament is endowed with a total prize money of € 42.500,- and is held at the Eurosporting sports complex with a big swimming pool area right next to the tennis courts, where the players and staff can relax between their matches and work. It is the event’s first edition without its founder Edi Aldo Raffin, who suffered a heart attack at the age of 61 in April this year. The tennis event, however, remains a family business because his daughter Serena acts as this year’s tournament director.
Only two first round matches were played on Monday. Jordi Samper-Montana took on Thomas Schoorel in the opening match. The 23-year-old Spaniard, who already won six ITF Future titles this year, had to feel that the level at Challengers is still different. The Dutch leftie was the dominant player throughout the encounter. Schoorel served big, returned pretty well and took the match after one hour and fifty minutes winning 6-2, 7-6.
The match between Norbert Gombos and Boris Pashanski took place under floodlight and should become a quick affair. The seventh-seeded Serb was without any chance and lost his already tenth first round match this year in only 61 minutes 3-6, 1-6.
In still sunny and warm conditions with about 30 degrees Celsius (86 F) the second part of the first round matches continued on Tuesday. Second-seeded Andreas Haider-Maurer had no problems in his encounter against qualifier Erik Crepaldi. The Austrian is in a good shape, which shows the fact that he could take two ATP Challenger titles in July winning in Poznan and Timisoara. The Italian on the other hand has just reached his personal career high ranking with 532nd position but lost the match in straight sets 0-6, 4-6 in only 75 minutes.
Another favorite for the title in Cordenons also advanced comfortably into the next round. 22-year-old Pablo Carreño-Busta defeated Jaroslav Pospisil winning 6-2, 6-4 in 79 minutes. “I’m happy with the match today. I started very good but just had some problems to serve the sets out,” The Spaniard returned to the tour after he had won his first Challenger title on hard court in Segovia. “Between the tournaments I had one week to practice on clay, I feel physically good and I think that this isn’t a problem at all,” Carreño added. The Spaniard started the year ranked at 654th position and broke into the top-hundred last week for the very first time: “This year has been incredible so far. I started playing qualification for a Future event in Turkey and now I play Grand Slams and ATP events. In January I would have never thought that I am a top-one-hundred player in August,” Carreño told us.
What can you expect from a clay court match where two Spaniards, both ranked between 200 and 300 in the world, face each other – right, an even and long encounter. This is what happened between Enrique López-Pérez and Guillermo Olaso. The latter, seeded on eighth position, reached two consecutive quarterfinals at his last Challengers in Liberec and Tampere, had the better start, broke his opponent’s serve three times to take the opening set in the 12th game. The 22-year-old López-Pérez, however, fought back, began to win the longer rallies and even more important the decisive points as well to eventually serve the match out winning 5-7, 6-3, 6-3 after two hours and 25 minutes.
Back on centre court an Italian talent in the person of 18-year-old Stefano Napolitano, who received a wild card, won his very first match on the ATP Challenger circuit defeating Mohamed Safwat 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 in two hours and six minutes.
Altogether it should become a successful day for the local players. Gianluca Naso, who just lost the $15.000 ITF Future final in Bolzano last Saturday to British talent Kyle Edmund, had to face another player from the United Kingdom. This time the 26-year-old Italian had the better ending beating Edward Corrie 2-6, 6-2, 6-3 in one hour and 51 minutes.
Alessandro Giannessi succeeded the first little upset of the tournament. The 23-year-old Italian, who won an ITF Future event in his home town of La Spezia two weeks ago, defeated fourth-seeded Adrian Ungur 3-6, 7-6, 6-1 in two hours and 39 minutes. “It was a very tough match today. He (Ungur) is a very good player but I fought a lot and I played a very good second and final set. I’m really happy right now,” Giannessi told us afterwards. “It’s always very special for me to play in Italy. It’s my country and I love it! It always gives you some extra motivation,” he added.
Two of the older generation in Italian tennis closed the day on centre court. Potito Starace, former world number 27, defeated 17-year-old wild card Filippo Baldi 6-2, 6-2 in only 75 minutes.
Former world number 25, Filippo Volandri also advanced into the next round beating 20-year-old Roberto Carballés-Baena 6-4, 6-1 for a third time this year. The match took place in windy conditions with some raindrops falling down on the clay court. During the match, a thunderstorm was coming up in the background but the encounter could be finished after 77 minutes right before the bad weather arrived. The last scheduled first round match between Paolo Lorenzi and Gianluigi Quinzi had to be postponed.