Darderi joins Italian young guns in top 100

ITALIAN 21-year-old Luciano Darderi broke through for his maiden ATP Tour title in Cordoba over the weekend, winning the ATP 250 event to rise up an incredible 60 places on the world rankings. Darderi became the sixth Italian inside the top 100, and fifth aged 22 or under in what shapes as a blossoming future for the nation.

While world number four Jannik Sinner headlines the Italian contingent coming off an Australian Open title, the 22-year-old is just the figurehead of what looms as an exciting era. The reigning Davis Cup champions have plenty of options to pick from, with 27-year-old Matteo Berrettini and 36-year-old Fabio Fognini no longer desperately needed even when not in form, or in the case of the former, injured.

Instead, Sinner and fellow young guns such as Lorenzo Musetti and Matteo Arnaldi are all top 50 players, as is 28-year-old Lorenzo Sonego. Along with Flavio Cobolli and Darderi, Italy has five players born in 2001 or later inside the ATP Tour’s top 50, easily the best of any nation. The United States (Ben Shelton, Alex Michelsen and Brandon Nakashima) and France (Arthur Fils, Luca Van Assche and Arthur Cazaux) are the other other nations with more than one representative.

Darderi had an ultra impressive run to the Cordoba Open title, winning against three seeded players including top 30 talent and second seed, Sebastian Baez in the semi-final. The Italian won 6-1 3-6 6-3 in that contest, while easily taking care of fourth and seventh seeds, Sebastian Ofner and Yannick Hanfmann respectively, in straight sets.

In the final against veteran Argentinian Facundo Bagnis, Darderi produced eight aces and won 78 and 61 per cent of his first and second serve points to only be broken once throughout the match. He created 10 break point opportunities himself, capitalising four times. While both players were yet to salute on the ATP Tour, the 21-year-old trumped Bagnis – 12 years his senior – in a dominant 6-1 6-4 victory.

“I feel really good, I can’t believe I have won my first ATP title,” Darderi said post-match. “Last week I lost in the [second] round of a Challenger.

“To come through from qualifying to win the title with my family here, my dad and my girlfriend, it’s so special. And to make a big move in the rankings.”

Argentina holds a special place in Darderi’s heart, with the Italian national born in the South American country. He will remain in his birthplace country this week to compete in the Argentina Open.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments