Arevalo Reacts To Historic Title For El Salvador
Salvadorian breaks new ground with sights set on Top 100
A breakthrough ATP Challenger Tour title and a long way round to dodge Hurricane Irma – it’s been a week unlike any Marcelo Arevalo will experience again. The 26 year old became the first player from El Salvador to notch a Challenger title with his 7-5, 6-4 victory over local Daniel Elahi Galan in the Milo Open final in Bogota, Colombia on Sunday.
He had taken down fourth seed Nicolas Jarry, fifth seed Gerald Melzer and top seed Victor Estrella Burgos en route to the decider. The triumph prompted tears of elation and hopes of inspiring children back home to pick up a racquet.
“It feels really good. I'm really happy,” Marcelo said. “I've been chasing this for a few years. I cried after the match and I called my mum and dad because they have been my biggest supporters in life.
“They have always believed in me. My results this year haven't been good. I didn't win many matches and my ranking was dropping to outside the Top 300.
“From a bad year, this is now a good one. I have my confidence back again and I hope to continue winning matches and end the year in a better way.”
The surprise win came with an unexpected twist. Marcelo had to get to Cary, in the United States, for his next Challenger event but Hurricane Irma had other ideas. With his flight to Miami cancelled, the Salvadorian was then rescheduled to fly into New York City, arriving at 2am on Tuesday, before taking on American Michael Mmoh later that same day.
Regardless of how he fairs against Mmoh, his win in Bogota ensures he will shift up to No. 219 in the Emirates ATP Rankings, closing in on his career-high mark of No. 176. It atones for a pair of runner-up finishes in Challenger events last season.
“Last year I had two chances to make it, in San Luis Potosi, Mexico, and Granby, Canada, and I lost both,” Marcelo said. “When I was in those two finals, I was pretty tight and nervous.
“I was thinking what people were going to say if I won my first tournament. And what it would mean to my country, to have the first guy in history to win a Challenger title.
“In this one, I said to myself that I already played two finals and I'm just going to play this one like it's any other match. That's what I did.
“A good goal for me would be to get back to No. 170 or 160, get into Australian Open qualifying and try to go even higher next year.”
The Arevalo family is well known in Salvadorian tennis circles. Marcelo’s brother Rafael created a tennis academy there and is the president of the national federation. His brother’s goal is to open 100 public courts around the country and Marcelo sees this as an inspiration in his bid to crack the Top 100 in the Emirates ATP Rankings.
“I hope that being the first from my country to win a Challenger title will be good for the kids, because it can make them believe,” he said. “If I did it, they can do it even better in the future. If I open the way for them, I can help them to believe that they can be a professional tennis player. I would like to see other guys like me fighting in the Challenger level. I would be really happy if I see that someday.”