Who was the ATP Challenger Tour’s hottest player in the final months of the 2020 season? There is only one answer: Francisco Cerundolo.
In October, Cerundolo introduced himself to the tennis world with a maiden ATP Challenger Tour title in Split, Croatia. The Argentine told us the story of how he studied for three exams while battling through the Split Open draw.
In November, Cerundolo received a special honour after taking his second title in Guayaquil, Ecuador. Competing in his first tournament as a Top 200 player, the 22-year-old was presented with the trophy by former World No. 4 and tournament director Andres Gomez.
And in December, Cerundolo completed an unforgettable title treble. On Sunday, he triumphed on the clay of Campinas, Brazil, defeating World No. 102 Roberto Carballes Baena 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 for his third crown in three months. The Argentine joins Carlos Alcaraz as the most decorated players on the ATP Challenger Tour in 2020.
“The truth is that it feels incredible,” said Cerundolo. “It was a great tournament for me. Two win a second title in three weeks is amazing. I’m very happy with what I achieved and the way I finished the year. To finish the year in the Top 150 is crazy.”
Photo Credit: Joao Pires/Fotojump
Cerundolo was made to work to lift the trophy after nearly being bounced from the tournament in second round. The Buenos Aires native was forced to save a match point against countryman Facundo Mena, reeling off 10 straight points to prevail in a deciding tie-break. He would then defeat another Argentine, Facundo Bagnis, and last week’s Sao Paulo champion Felipe Meligeni to reach the final. There, he rallied from a break down in the deciding set to defeat Carballes Baena and lift the trophy.
“In the second round, I did not play well,” recalled Cerundolo. “To win after saving a match point, holding the trophy in my hands, makes me happy. And the final was difficult too. Carballes is a tough opponent and he raised his level in the second set. But I’m very happy for what I did, to come back in the third.”
Cerundolo rises to a career-high No. 139 in the FedEx ATP Rankings with the victory in Campinas, soaring more than 100 spots since the start of the year. He finishes his 2020 campaign on a staggering 20-3 run. Moreover, his 22 match wins lead the Challenger circuit since the restart from the COVID-19 hiatus.
“Now I will go back to my home in Argentina to relax, spend some time with my family and friends and later prepare for the next season.”
Match Wins Leaders Since Restart (17 August)