Matteo Gigante was down and out in the second round of qualifying at the Tenerife Challenger-3. Following a straight-sets defeat against Giovanni Fonio, it seemed the Italian was off to his next tournament. But little did he know what the rest of the week held for him.
After receiving a lucky loser spot in the Tenerife main draw, Gigante went on a run to collect his maiden ATP Challenger Tour title. In the final, he defeated countryman Stefano Travaglia 6-3, 6-2 in just one hour, 10 minutes.
“I’m so proud, I played amazing tennis this week,” Gigante said. “[The final] was against a good friend, when we are in Rome we practise every day. It’s difficult mentally but I’m so happy.”
The 21-year-old is the first lucky loser champion on the Challenger Tour since 2018, when Tommy Paul won in Charlottesville and just the 16th lucky loser champion in Challenger history.
A rain-delayed quarter-final, which was halted at 1-1, forced Gigante to spend almost four hours on court Saturday, including a comeback 5-7, 7-6(3), 6-3 semi-final victory over Riccardo Bonadio.
Matteo Gigante claims the Challenger 75 event in Tenerife. Credit: Joana Wallmeier
Gigante adds his name to a plethora of young Italian stars who are finding early success on the Challenger Tour. In 2022, seven Italian #NextGenATP players collected Challenger titles: Matteo Arnaldi, Mattia Bellucci, Flavio Cobolli, Francesco Maestrelli, Lorenzo Musetti, Luca Nardi, and Francesco Passaro. The Rome-native Gigante is the third #NextGenATP winner of this season, joining Frenchmen Arthur Fils and Arthur Cazaux.
Following his Challenger 75 title on the Canary island, the lefty rises to a career-high No. 194 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings.
At the Vitas Gerulaitis Cup in Vilnius, Lithuania, Liam Broady claimed his first Challenger title since September 2021 (Biel). The British lefty didn’t drop a set all week and downed Czech Zdenek Kolar 6-4, 6-4 in the championship match.
Liam Broady at the 2023 Vilnius Challenger. Credit: Saulius Čirba
Broady, 29, is a former junior World No. 2 and was a finalist at the 2011 Wimbledon and 2012 US Open boys’ singles events.
In 2022, Broady made his career-best Grand Slam result by reaching the third round at Wimbledon (l. de Minaur), where he earned a wild card and won back-to-back five setters, including against 12th seed Diego Schwartzman.
This is what it means.@Liambroady | #ATPChallenger pic.twitter.com/xWtOkVAThH
— ATP Challenger Tour (@ATPChallenger) February 12, 2023