Birthday Boy Nardi Notches Porto Open Title

Luca Nardi (photo: Florian Heer)

PORTO, August 6, 2023

The Porto Open has witnessed a changing of the guard this year, as Luca Nardi claimed the trophy and became the new champion of the ATP Challenger Tour 125 hard-court tournament in Northern Portugal. Nardi put on an outstanding performance throughout the event, culminating in a well-deserved victory on his 20th birthday.

In the past, the Porto Open had seen the domination of Turkish Altug Celikbilek, who had won the titles in the previous two editions. However, this year’s competition saw a new contender emerge in the form of the Italian rising star.

Nardi copes with opponent and the crowd

In front of about 1,200 spectators on a packed Center Court of the Complexo Desportivo do Monte Aventino in Porto, Nardi defeated local wild card entry Joao Sousa 5-7, 6-4, 6-1. The highly anticipated singles final on a sunny Sunday held a promise of a celebratory homecoming for Sousa, but it was Nardi who ultimately stole the show.

The Pesaro native overcame a slow start and took control of the match in the middle of the second set. Nardi capitalized on six of his eight break-point chances to prevail after two hours and 14 minutes.

“For sure, I will remember this day because it’s my 20 birthday, my most important title so for sure it will be special for a long time,” said Nardi.

“I am happy, tired. I don’t know, many emotions are inside me and I can’t wait to be back home and celebrate with my family and friends.”

The #NextGenATP star claimed his fourth ATP Challenger Tour career title, his first of the season and earned €19,650 in prize money as well as 125 ATP Ranking points.

For sure it wasn’t easy because I knew it would be very tough crowd today, all for him. I knew that, I respect that. He played good, he had a very solid week and today I think I was very focused, didn’t want to give up.

The first two matches I didn’t play good, but then I played better match by match and I hope I can keep this confidence for the rest of the season.”

Sousa back to his best in front of family and friends

Sousa’s excellent run of form this week had led him to the final, where hopes were high for a fairy-tale ending on home soil.

“The key of the match was in the second set when I had some break points at 5-4 to get back into the match but Luca did a great job today. I was actually surprised by his maturity, dealing with the crowd, which supported me throughout the final. He really deserved to win,” said the 34-year-old Portuguese after his first final of the season.

“We both played at a high level today and that’s what matters for me the most. This means a lot to me. I am not focused on the ranking and it’s more about staying fit and mentally prepared,” added World No. 352 Sousa, who struggled with a back injury in recent times.