by Florian Heer

Matteo Arnaldi and Raul Brancaccio will meet in Sunday’s all-Italian singles final of the Tenerife Challenger 2. Arnaldi, No. 2 seed of the €73,000 ATP Challenger Tour hard-court event being held at the Abama Tennis Academy, defeated Spanish wild card entry Nicolas Alvarez Varona 6-3, 6-4 on Saturday in Guía de Isora.

In the pair’s first meeting at Challenger level, Arnaldi won 83 per cent of his first-service points and broke his rival three times to advance in one hour and 35 minutes.

“I am very happy how I played. Today was my best match of the tournament. I was more consistent in the important moments,” said Arnaldi, who lost to Max Purcell in the final round of the qualifying at last month’s Australian Open. “In Australia I played well and was close to reach the main draw. Being in the final here is another good sign at an early stage of the season,” the World No. 130 added.

“I am close to crack the Top 100 after this tournament, regardless of the result of the final. My goal was to raise the level, which worked pretty well, and I will now have the opportunity to play the qualifying of ATP Tour events.”

Brancaccio receives walkover

Meanwhile, Brancaccio received a walkover from South African Lloyd Harris, who was forced to withdraw from his match due to sciatica.

Arnaldi is bidding for his second ATP Challenger career title following his maiden triumph on home soil in Francavilla in May last year. The 147th-ranked Brancaccio could lift his third career trophy, his second of the season after Noumea, New Caledonia in the very first week of the 2023 season. The pair’s head-to-head record on the Pro Circuit is tied at 1-1.

Harrison/Mochizuki lift doubles trophies

Later in the day and after a short rain delay, US-American Christian Harrison and Shintaro Mochizuki of Japan claimed the doubles title. The unseeded duo defeated the all-Italian combination of Matteo Gigante and Francesco Passaro 6-4, 6-3 in 64 minutes.

By winning their first team title, Harrison and Mochizuki split €4,250 in prize money and earned 75 ATP Doubles Ranking points.

Sunday’s singles final will start at 12 noon.

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