Juan Manuel Cerundolo knew it would be a tough decision, but the 19-year-old understood that it was for the best. The surging #NextGenATP star had the opportunity to make his US Open qualifying debut last month, but opted to forego the hard-court major as he remained in Europe and continued building his game on the ATP Challenger Tour.
Safe to say, the decision paid dividends. Cerundolo went back-to-back on the clay of Como, Italy and Banja Luka, Bosnia & Herzegovina, claiming his second and third Challenger titles of the year. The Argentine sealed the remarkable run with a 6-3, 6-1 victory over Nikola Milojevic in Sunday’s Srpska Open championship. He reeled off eight sets won in a row to capture the crown in Banja Luka.
The teenager is making noise on the court with his determined play and dogged defence, and he will earn a significant reward in the FedEx ATP Rankings for his efforts. Cerundolo is poised to rise 27 spots to a career-high No. 108 on Monday. He and brother Francisco Cerundolo (No. 104) are both knocking on the door of the Top 100.
Moreover, his title treble has him in elite company in Argentine tennis history. At the age of 19 years and nine months, Cerundolo became the third-youngest player from his country to win three Challenger titles. Only Juan Martin del Potro and Guillermo Coria were younger when they lifted their third trophies.
Cerundolo, who also secured his maiden ATP Tour title in Cordoba in February, is up to seventh position in the ATP Race To Milan. The teen will look to secure his place at the Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals in the coming months.
Youngest Argentines To Win Three Challenger Titles
|Juan Martin del Potro||17 years, 10 months||2006 Segovia|
|Guillermo Coria||18 years, 10 months||2000 Montevideo|
|Juan Manuel Cerundolo||19 years, 9 months||2021 Banja Luka|
|Guillermo Canas||19 years, 10 months||1997 Santiago|
In other action… Benjamin Bonzi is unstoppable on the ATP Challenger Tour. The Frenchman added a fifth title of the year on Sunday in Cassis, completing a dominant run that has seen him go back-to-back on home soil at the Saint-Tropez Open and Cassis Open Provence. In fact, he extended his Challenger win streak to 15 straight, having also lifted the trophy in Pozoblanco, Spain, last month.
One of the newest members of the Top 100 in the FedEx ATP Rankings, Bonzi is putting it all together in 2021. He joined the exclusive club on 2 August and is projected to rise to a career-high No. 76 on Monday.
How impressive is the 25-year-old’s achievement? He is the first player to win five Challenger titles in a season since Filip Krajinovic in 2017. The single-season record is six. He is also just the second Frenchman to achieve the feat, following in the footsteps of Adrian Mannarino (2014).
This week, the prestigious Copa Sevilla celebrated its 30th anniversary on the ATP Challenger Tour. For the 16th time, one of its native sons lifted the trophy. Pedro Martinez captured his third career title, streaking to victory on home soil with a 6-4, 6-1 win over countryman Roberto Carballes Baena. The World No. 75 was coming off a first match win at the US Open, rallying from two sets down to defeat James Duckworth.
At the inaugural NO Open in Tulln, Austria, it was Mats Moraing claiming his second title of the year. The German dominated Hugo Gaston 6-2, 6-1 in just 46 minutes on Saturday. The final finished just three minutes shy of the record for shortest title match in ATP Challenger history. Moraing, who rallied from a set down twice during the week, rises 49 spots to No. 193.
At the inaugural Kyiv Open, the Italian-Argentine sensation Franco Agamenone carried his jaw-dropping run of form to a second title. Agamenone entered the month of August without a match win in his ATP Challenger career, but, at the age of 28, he is proving that it’s never too late to break through. The Argentine-born Italian has since reeled off 11 wins from 12 matches, adding titles in Prague and Kyiv. From outside the Top 600 at the start of the year, he is projected to rise to a career-high No. 230 in the FedEx ATP Rankings on Monday.