Sousa Soars Into Split Open Final

Pedro Sousa

SPLIT, October 3, 2020

The run of the local wild cards at the €44,820 Split Open has come to an end, as top seed Pedro Sousa from Portugal and Francisco Cerundolo of Argentina will compete in Sunday’s singles title match of Croatia’s first ATP Challenger Tour tournament since 2011.

On a warm but very windy Saturday afternoon with gusts up to 75 mph at the Tennis Club Friule, the semi-final matches became a bit of a lottery. Sousa fought past 22-year-old Borna Gojo 6-4, 5-7, 6-2. The World No. 113 withstood eight aces and broke his opponent’s serve five times to prevail after almost two hours of play.

“It wasn’t tennis today,” Sousa commented on the tough conditions on the shore of the Adriatic Sea. “We just tried to hit the ball inside the court. I was a bit lucky and it worked in the end. I live in Lisbon and from time to time we also have strong winds and it is very difficult to play.

“I didn’t win too many matches over the last couple of weeks. I lost in the first round of the US Open and at Roland Garros but I feel good here, enjoyed some good practice sessions and I knew that the results will come. I am happy to be in the final.”

It will be Sousa’s second championship match of the season. The Portuguese finished runner-up to Casper Ruud at the Argentina Open in Buenos Aires in February. “I reached my first ATP final, which helped me to climb up the rankings again but due to the coronavirus outbreak, we had to stop for six months. It was tough to be at home for such a long time but two months ago I became a father of a boy. So it has been a good year for me,” Sousa said and added with a smile. “Of course the priorities have changed a bit since then, but playing tennis is what I do for a living. This is how I pay the bills, I buy the diapers, so I have to continue.”

Cerundolo holds off Croatian teenager

Later in the day, Cerundolo also had to go the distance to rally past 19-year-old Split native Duje Ajdukovic, who appeared in his first Challenger event. The 22-year-old from Buenos Aires won 51 per cent of the total point played to seal a 6-7(2), 6-4, 6-3 victory in two hours and 13 minutes.

Sousa and Cerundolo will meet for the first time. Following eight title wins on the ITF World Tennis Tour, Cerundolo, who is currently ranked at a career-high World No. 223, is seeking his maiden trophy at Challenger level. Sousa could clinch his eighth career title, his first of the season.

Huey/Lammons win doubles title

In other action, Treat Huey from the Philippines and US-American Nathaniel Lammons captured the doubles title. The No. 3 seeds defeated the tournament’s top seeds Andre Goransson from Sweden and Hunter Reese of the United States 6-4, 7-6(3). The final lasted one hour and 23 minutes.