Cerundolo, 19, Reaches Cordoba Final In ATP Tour Debut
Argentine qualifier Juan Manuel Cerundolo had never played an ATP Tour main draw match before this week at the Cordoba Open. Now, the 19-year-old is one victory away from lifting his first trophy on home soil after defeating Federico Coria 6-4, 4-6, 6-2.
“Honestly, I still can’t believe what is happening,” Cerundolo said in an on-court interview. “It was a really tough match, I was playing very solid in the first set but he started to come back and then anything could happen. After the second set, I did well to recover mentally and withstand him.”
Cerundolo and Coria were both in uncharted waters on Saturday as they each contested their first ATP Tour semi-final. But their roads to get to that point couldn’t be more different: 28-year-old Coria was making a late-career breakthrough, while young Cerundolo was in the midst of the best week of his career after making his ATP Tour main draw debut. In fact, Cerundolo had only played 14 matches in the ATP Challenger Tour and owned a 7-7 record coming into Cordoba.
But the 19-year-old looked more like the veteran on Cancha Central, doing damage with his lefty forehand as he redirected Coria’s power back at his countryman. Cerundolo finished the match with 30 winners against Coria’s 19 as he sealed the victory after two hours and 10 minutes.
“I would describe myself… as a defensive counter puncher,” Cerundolo said. “I like to hit with the other guy’s power. When you face powerful opponents like Fede [Coria], you have to go after them a little bit or else things can get complicated.”
The victory made Cerundolo the youngest Argentine to reach an ATP Tour final since Jose Acasuso, 18, at 2001 Buenos Aires. At that tournament, Acasuso was coached by Alejandro Cerundolo, Juan Manuel’s father.
Cerundolo will take on fifth seed Ramos-Vinolas in the final. The Spaniard needed nearly three hours to end another Argentine qualifier’s dream run as he defeated Facundo Bagnis 7-5, 5-7, 6-3.
All of the Spaniard’s matches in Cordoba have gone three sets, and it was no different against qualifier Bagnis, who was contesting his first ATP Tour semi-final. Ramos-Vinolas edged through the first set and held three match points at 5-4 in the second set, but things took a turn when Bagnis saved all three and took them into a third set. The fifth seed regained control with two breaks of serve to book his spot in the final after two hours and 50 minutes.
Ramos-Vinolas has been crashing the Argentine party all week long in Cordoba, defeating four consecutive Argentine players en route to the final. His biggest victory came over top seed Diego Schwartzman, No. 9 in the FedEx ATP Rankings, in the quarter-finals, 6-1, 4-6, 6-3.
He will be looking to make it five wins against Argentines when he faces Cerundolo in the final. Ramos-Vinolas is in the hunt for his third ATP Tour trophy, and his first since 2019 Gstaad.