ATPWorldTour.com pays tribute to Paolo Lorenzi, who has become the third player to record 300 match wins on the ATP Challenger Tour.
Since its inception in 1978, the ATP Challenger Tour has served as a breeding ground for the game’s brightest young stars and has given players a platform to continue pursuing their dreams in professional tennis.
Entering the 2015 season, only Ruben Ramirez Hidalgo had etched his name in the record books as a 300-match winner on the circuit. For more than three years the Spaniard had stood alone. Until now.
Last week, all-time titles leader Yen-Hsun Lu joined the 37 year old in the exclusive ‘300 Wins Club’ and history was made once again on Friday, as Italy’s Paolo Lorenzi became the third player to cross the threshold with a 7-5, 7-6(1) victory over Matthew Ebden in Eskisehir, Turkey.
“It’s not in ATP-level events, but still in the Challengers to do 300 wins is a lot and it’s not so easy,” Lorenzi told ATPWorldTour.com. “I love tennis. I love to travel. I love to wake up in the morning and train. This is my life for 33 years. From becoming Top 100 for the first time at 27 to playing in big tournaments, I love it.
“I’m only 33 so maybe I will get to 400 next. Three or four years ago, when Ruben rose to (an Emirates ATP Ranking of) 50 in the world, people asked when he would stop playing. Now he just made the quarter-finals in Napoli and semi-finals in Vercelli, so you never know. I hope to play as much as possible because now if you have a big injury it’s tougher to come back than when you’re younger. You have more motivation now.”
A key member of the Italian invasion in professional tennis over the past decade, Lorenzi, with Fabio Fognini, Simone Bolelli, Filippo Volandri and Potito Starace, have combined to win a staggering 1,075 matches and 53 titles on the ATP Challenger Tour.
The 33-year-old Rome native owns a 12-12 record in finals on the circuit and boasts four 30-win seasons since 2009.
“I have two big moments,” Lorenzi reflected. “One for sure was my victory in Reggio Emilia in 2009. I had all my family and friends there. It was the first time I won a big tournament in Italy. And it was the first time I crossed the Top 100 that year. The second was in San Luis Potosi, in Mexico. I was playing there many times – six or seven – and I lost three finals. Then last year I won for the first time and it was a big moment for me.
“The Challenger Tour is an important step for all players. I’d say only five per cent don’t play Challengers. It is the most important step for the young guys. Very few go straight to the ATP level and they get the experience to play in the big tournaments here. Also, you might have a player who is playing really well and gets injured, like Radek Stepanek, so they have to play these tournaments.”
Lorenzi has enjoyed considerable success on the ATP World Tour as well, and three early-season quarter-finals in 2013 – in Doha, Santiago and Acapulco – would lead to a career-high No. 49 in the Emirates ATP Rankings on 4 March. One of his greatest moments came exactly one year later in reaching his first tour-level title match at the Brasil Open in Sao Paulo (l. to Delbonis).
“It was my first final and I had never made one semi before. It was one of the biggest moments of my life. It was amazing. Every day I was winning tough matches. I played two and a half hours against Juan Monaco and then I played Tommy Haas. It was great. I will always remember this part of my life.”
With the hunger to continue improving every week, Lorenzi has a specific Emirates ATP Rankings target in mind for the rest of the 2015 season.
“My goal is to close the year better than last year. I was No. 63, so my goal is to close Top 60. I know it’s not easy because every year the tournaments are more difficult, but I will try my best.”
Lorenzi will look to register his first match win at Roland Garros when the second Grand Slam of the year commences next week. But first, a matter of business remains in Eskisehir. He faces eighth seed Remi Boutillier in Saturday’s semi-finals.
I thought Eskisehir had a saturday final, how on earth is Paolo going to play a possible final on sunday and then R1 at FO on Tuesday?
Muller is a beatable opponent for him although he would be underdog given his recent physical troubles but Muller too is coming from an injury.