By Florian Heer
(August 30, 2013) Como is a city in Lombardy, in the Northern part of Italy close to the Swiss boarder. Its proximity to Lake Como and to the Alps has made Como a popular tourist destination. The ATP Challenger Tour is a very prestigious event for the city because it is an international sporting event and the only one in Italy this week. The 2013 tournament is the eighth edition and the prize money amounts to € 30.000.
The club is situated next to the neoclassical Villa Olmo and close to the lake. Nearby there is also an aviation school and you can often hear water planes taking off and circulating over the courts.
The weather on quarterfinal’s Friday was great with a lot of sunshine when Dominic Thiem took on qualifier Ilijan Bozoljac in the first match. The 19-year-old Austrian reached the quarterfinal at this year’s ATP 250 event in Kitzbühel and seems to transfer his good shape into this tournament. Thiem advanced into the semi-final after one hour and 55 minutes defeating the Serb 4-6, 6-3, 6-3.
The second match of the day also went to the distance when Marco Crugnola finally overcame third-seeded Teymuraz Gabashvili. The Italian wild card, ranked only on 662nd position, has been the big surprise of the tournament so far and still remains on the winning way defeating the Russian 0-6, 7-5, 6-4 after two hours and eight minutes.
Another Italian also made it into the semis. 21-year-old Lorenzo Giustino defeated Simon Greul in straight sets. The qualifier took the first set in only thirty minutes and after an emotional second frame, Giustino eventually won the match in 65 minutes later by 6-3, 7-6. “I started very good with a solid forehand and I was able to put almost all of my first services inside. In the second set Simon began to play better and I became a bit nervous when he was 5-2 up. It followed a very tough eighth game in which I fought so much to finally arrive in the tie-break,” Giustino analyzed the match afterwards. “I was first seeded in the qualification. When I finally made it through to the main draw, it gave me confidence for the first round but nothing more,” the Italian added concerning a possible advantage a qualifier might have.
In the final match of the quarterfinal of the day the tournament’s top-seed in person of Pablo Carreño-Busta faced Gianluca Naso. The Spaniard won the last two ATP Challenger events he played in Segovia and Cordenons, and this is what he is aiming for in Como as well. In today’s encounter, Carreño had a bad start and struggled a lot with his service. In the middle of the opening set the Spaniard found his rhythm and capitalized on his first set point in the twelfth game. Naso, however, played a strong match with solid ground strokes and won most of the backhand duels by ending the rally often with a beautiful long-line winner. The Italian wild card took the second set in the tie-break but got broken in his opening service game of the final frame. Carreño eventually served the match out after two hours and twenty minutes winning 7-5, 6-7, 6-4. “It was a very difficult match today. He started very well and I had to fight a lot. The court is a little bit faster than usual, which seemed to suit his game very well and I had some problems during my return games,” the world number 76 was relieved after the fight.
Florian Heer travels the tennis tour with a focus on ATP Challenger events and the ITF Future Circuit! His special interest is in Spanish tennis and you can follow his twitter account @armadadetenis.