In the first round of the all-new Challenger 175 category, fans can enjoy a rematch of two players who have previously 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 went on to reach the final (l. Djokovic). Two months later, the Italian and Ivashka met again in the US Open third round, with Berrettini prevailing in five sets.
This week, after suffering losses at the ATP Masters 1000 event in Indian Wells, Berrettini and Ivashka made their way to the Arizona Tennis Classic, where they will clash Thursday afternoon at the Phoenix Country Club.
“That 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 Slam so it means that the level is really high and I have to be focused from the first match. That’s what I need and what I want, to play the best guys on tour.”
Four years ago, the-then World No. 57 Berrettini earned his third Challenger title in Phoenix. The 26-year-old is hoping for the same result this week after a disappointing second-round exit (l. Taro Daniel) at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.
“It’s great to be here,” Berrettini said. “Obviously it wasn’t planned, it was unscheduled. Such a beautiful place, a beautiful tennis club with so many good memories. Excited to be here and hopefully going to have a long run. I cannot wait to start.”
A new innovation for 2023, the Challenger 175 tournaments are held during the second week of the ATP Masters 1000 events in Indian Wells, Madrid, and Rome. Highly-ranked players who lose early at the Masters 1000s can decide to compete at the following week’s Challenger tournament, which provides strong competition for players hungry for more matches.
“You want to play against the best guys on tour, you want to get the level high in order to be ready for Miami,” Berrettini said. “It’s good to have this kind of field. Gael Monfils was practising next to me and we’ve had some great battles in Grand Slams so that means the field is really strong.”
Berrettini and Monfils could clash in the quarter-finals of the Phoenix Challenger. Berrettini leads their Head2Head 3-0, including two matches that went five sets at Grand Slams (‘19 US Open, ‘22 Australian Open).
Where can I watch the Phoenix Challenger?
All matches will be broadcasted live and on demand for free on Challenger TV.
— ATP Challenger Tour (@ATPChallenger) March 15, 2023