It was one year ago that Marco Cecchinato was playing the best tennis of his career. A third ATP Tour title saw him soar inside the Top 20 of the FedEx ATP Rankings. It was a breakthrough moment for the Italian.

Now, the 27-year-old is fighting to rediscover that mojo on the court. After such a rapid rise from the ATP Challenger Tour, Cecchinato finds himself searching for that elite form as he targets a return to the top levels of the game. He is hoping a deep run this week in Todi will go a long way to those ends.

On Thursday, Cecchinato advanced to the quarter-finals at the Internazionali di Tennis Città di Todi. He defeated Juan Pablo Ficovich 6-3, 6-4 in one hour and 15 minutes, riding his serve to victory. Cecchinato won an impressive 82 per cent of first serve points and did not face a break point.

Sitting at No. 113, the Palermo native would return to the Top 100 with a title this week. He faces seventh seed Yannick Hanfmann on Friday, following the German’s 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 comeback win over 18-year-old Lorenzo Musetti.

 

In other action, Spain’s Bernabe Zapata Miralles routed top seed and countryman Roberto Carballes Baena 6-2, 6-1 in just 68 minutes. It marked the third straight season that Zapata Miralles has earned a Top 100 victory.

“I didn’t expect such a victory today,” said Zapata Miralles. “I played very well, putting into practice the tactics I had prepared before the tournament. I was facing an opponent who is comfortable on clay and the points were very long. But I’m very happy to have won them. Here in Todi I am expressing myself very well on the court. It is not easy after the long break on the circuit. I know that I can play with everyone but I want to continue thinking match by match.”

The 23-year-old Spaniard will face fifth seed Facundo Bagnis for a spot in the semis. Bagnis earned a 6-2, 6-4 victory over Giulio Zeppieri earlier on Thursday.


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