May 17, 2022 2:49 am

After the echoes of Rafael Nadal’s success, the Córdoba Open opens the South American challenge with Diego Schwartzman as the favorite

The echoes of the triumph of Rafael Nadal at the Australian Open, the international tour of tennis leaves Oceania and moves its shops around the world again, and arrives once again in South America. The first station is Córdoba, and the Polo Deportivo at the Mario Kempes stadium brings together various stars of the tour. Even though the event belongs to the 250 category –the lowest in the ATP world–, the tournament has several prominent names, with Diego Schwartzman, 13th in the world ranking, as the main favorite. And, at the last moment, he was left without the defending champion, Juan Manuel Cerúndolo, due to injury.

It will be the fourth performance of the Cordoba ATP, which has always had players from our country in decisive instances. Juan Ignacio Londero celebrated in the inaugural edition, in 2019; Chilean Cristian Garín defeated Schwartzman in 2020, and last year Juan Manuel Cerúndolo made a big impact by winning the tournament from qualifying, with a great victory over the Spanish Albert Ramos Viñolas in the decisive duel, after achieving eight wins in one week. The defending champion, one of the faces that appears in the tournament’s billboards, along with Schwartzman and the Austrian Dominic Thiem, will not be in the tournament due to a tear.

Argentina’s Juan Manuel Cerundolo returns a shot to American Brandon Nakashima during the Next Generation ATP Finals on November 9, 2021 at the Allianz Cloud venue in Milan; will not be able to be in Córdoba due to injuryTIZIANA FABI – AFP

“Unfortunately, I am going to have to get out of the Córdoba Open. Yesterday while training I had a tear in my right psoas. It is costing me a lot to walk and I will not be able to reach 100 percent, “said the youngest of the Cerúndolo, who turned 20 last November, on his social networks. “I wish all the players the best of luck. I am going to do everything possible to recover and get to Buenos Aires”, concluded Juan Manuel.

Schwartzman and Benoit Paire appear on the same side of the key as Cerúndolo; the Frenchman is an unpredictable player, capable of going to the first exchange or fighting Stefanos Tsitsipas on equal terms at the Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne. If the Frenchman maintains the motivated pulse he showed in Australia, he can complicate anyone.

Obviously, Schwartzman will seek to conquer a tournament that has been elusive so far. Two quarterfinals are added to the final on loan in 2020. From Australia he left with physical problems in his defeat in the second round, between cramps and contractures. “It made me sad because I had had a good start to the year, I felt fresh and healthy, and this happened that played against me. It is a great frustration, because I had high expectations, “he said a few days ago. Córdoba offers a kind of revenge to Peque, who will then have to endorse the title from twelve months ago at the Argentina Open.

FILE - In this Sept. 13, 2020, file photo, Dominic Thiem hoists the US Open champion trophy after beating Alexander Zverev
FILE – In this Sept. 13, 2020, file photo, Dominic Thiem hoists the US Open champion trophy after beating Alexander Zverev

Córdoba also has among its attractions Dominic Thiem. 2020 US Open champion and two-time winner in Buenos Aires, the Austrian disembarks for the first time in the Mediterranean province. It will be a special contest for Thiem: there will be his return to the circuit after seven months of inactivity, absent due to an injury to his right wrist that made it more difficult than expected. He was going to play the Australian Open, but the recovery was not enough, and in recent days he prepared in Santiago de Chile, where his coach, Nicolás Massú, lives. Beyond having the second-seeded poster, we will have to wait to see in what conditions Thiem returns, a player who always puts on a good show. The table offers him a premiere in the second round, against the winner of the match between Tomás Martin Etcheverry, one of the guests, and a player from the classification.

The list of participants includes, of course, several members of the always large Spanish delegation; the experienced FerdinandVerdasco, 38 years old and with a protected ranking, he will be the rival of an attractive generational duel in the premiere against Sebastian Baez, one of the new faces of the Argentine group. The native of Buenos Aires comes from leaving an excellent image in Australia, where he beat Ramos Viñolas and fell in four tight sets against Tsitsipas.

Sebastian Baez
Sebastian BaezAustralian Open

And of course, there will be a strong Argentine presence, with at least nine of the 28 players in the main draw. Schwartzman leads the pack, and Juan Manuel Cerúndolo and Báez – the two who played in the Next Gen Masters – are also among the players to watch. The payroll is completed with Federico Delbonis, Federico Coria, Facundo Bagnis, Francisco Cerúndolo, and the guests Tomas Martin Etcheverry and Juan Ignacio Londero. From this Monday, Córdoba will breathe first-level tennis again.

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