Sousa Soars Into Porto Open Final

Joao Sousa (photo: Florian Heer)

PORTO, August 5, 2023

Joao Sousa has reached the final on home soil at the third edition of the Porto Open. The 34-year-old Portuguese delighted his home crowd with an impressive performance, showcasing why he is still regarded as one of the nation’s finest players.

On a sunny Saturday at Complexo Desportivo do Monte Aventino in Porto, Sousa defeated Frenchman Jules Marie 7-6(4), 6-0. The World No. 352, who entered the main draw of the ATP Challenger Tour 125 tournament with a wild card, struck seven aces and won 79 per cent of his first-service points to succeed in one hour and 15 minutes.

“Today is a happy day. I am very pleased reaching the final,” Sousa said during his post-match press-conference.

“It has been strange because I think my best match was the first one. Usually, we raise our level as the week goes on, but here it has been the opposite. I haven’t been as good in the last few matches, but mentally, it has gone very well, and that’s what has made the difference.

“As I said yesterday, playing poorly and still winning matches is the best feeling in the world. It’s a good sign in terms of my performance level.”

Nardi advances to final

Sousa, a winner of four ATP Tour titles, will take on Luca Nardi of Italy on Sunday. The fourth seed of the €125,000 hard-court event edged past seventh-seeded Frenchman Antoine Escoffier 7-6(3), 6-4. Nardi converted three of his seven break-point opportunities to advance to his fifth Challenger final after one hour and 39 minutes.

“On the first day, I trained with Joao,” said Nardi. “I lost the practice set, but training is different from a match. He is playing well, was ranked inside the Top 30, and facing him at home with the crowd supporting him, it’s going to be tough.”

Sousa is bidding for his sixth ATP Challenger career title, his first since winning in his hometown of Guimaraes 10 years ago. The 19-year-old Nardi could lift his fourth Challenger trophy. The pair will meet for the first time.

Matsui/Uesugi triumph in doubles

In other action, No. 4 seeds Toshihide Matsui and Kaito Uesugi of Japan captured the doubles title. The pair beat third favourites Rithvik Choudary Bollipalli and Arjun Kadhe from India 6-7(5), 6-3, 10-5 in one hour and 32 minutes.

By winning their first Challenger Tour team title, Matsui and Uesugi split €8,420 in prize money and earned 125 ATP Doubles Ranking points.