In the first round of the all-new Challenger 175 category, fans can enjoy a rematch of two players who have already met in the fourth round of a Grand Slam.
In 2021, Matteo Berrettini ousted Ilya Ivashka in the round of 16 at Wimbledon, where the Italian then reached the final (l. Djokovic). Two months later, the Italian and Ivashka met again in the third round of the US Open, with Berrettini winning in five sets.
This week, after suffering losses at the ATP Masters 1000 event in Indian Wells, Berrettini and Ivashka traveled to the Arizona Tennis Classic, where they will face off Thursday afternoon at the Phoenix Country Club.
Top seed Berrettini got a wild card in the Phoenix Challenger. Gaël Monfils, Alexander Bublik and Richard Gasquet are also part of the leading pack.
“It shows the level of this Challenger,” Berrettini said. “I think it’s one of the highest Challengers ever. I played (Ivashka) in the fourth round of a Grand Slam so that means the level is really high and I have to be focused from game 1. That’s what I need and want, to play the best guys on tour.
Four years ago, then-world number 57 Berrettini won his third Challenger title in Phoenix. The 26-year-old is hoping for the same result this week after a disappointing second-round outing (l. Taro Daniel) at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.
“It’s great to be here,” Berrettini said. “Obviously it wasn’t planned, it wasn’t planned. Such a beautiful place, a beautiful tennis club with so many great memories. Excited to be here and hope to have a long run. I am excited to begin.
New innovation for 2023, the Challenger 175 tournaments take place during the second week of the ATP Masters 1000 events in Indian Wells, Madrid and Rome. Highly ranked players who lose early in the Masters 1000 may decide to enter the following week’s Challenger tournament, which offers stiff competition for players hungry for more matches.
“You want to play against the best guys on the tour, you want to get to the high level so you’re ready for Miami,” Berrettini said. “It’s good to have this kind of ground. Gael Monfils was training next to me and we had some great Grand Slam battles which means the peloton is really strong.
Berrettini and Monfils could face each other in the quarterfinals of the Phoenix Challenger. Berrettini leads their Head2Head 3-0, including two matches that went five sets at Grand Slams (US Open ’19, Australian Open ’22).
Where can I watch the Phoenix Challenger?
All matches will be broadcast live and on demand for free on Challenger TV.
Title memories boost top seed Matteo Berrettini before building momentum for @MiamiOpen #ATPChallenger | @aztennisclassic pic.twitter.com/eD3PWAZqVx
— ATP Challenger Tour (@ATPChallenger) March 15, 2023