Umag, 25 July 2022 – Champion of the Umag 2018 tournament, Marco Cecchinato, was too much for Mili Poljičak at the start of this year's Plava Laguna Croatia Open Umag tournament. The Italian recorded a 6:1, 5:7, 6:2 victory, but one of the world’s best junior players proved to be a worthy opponent. The second set was particularly exciting, as the recent winner of the Junior Wimbledon saved three match points at 3:5, and then won four games in a row.
Cecchinato, who reached the 16th place in ATP rankings three years ago, but had to play in the qualifications in Umag this season, finished the first set without losing a serve, even though Poljičak had two break points in the first, and three break points in the third game. In the second set the tables were turned, allowing the 18-year-old player from Split to achieve a 2:0 lead, with as many as seven points needed for 3:0. The Italian managed to fight back, and achieve a lead of 5:3 prior to an excellent series by Mili. However, Cecchinato dominated the third set, although he first had to endure a lot of pressure from his opponent at the start of the set.
“I am very pleased with my debut on a singles ATP tournament. I was really close to winning, but my opponent had experience on his side, and I have no regrets. This is a positive experience for me,” said Poljičak, adding: “It took us an hour to finish the first set, there were many points and games that could have gone either way, and, had there been some luck, I might have won some of them. But Cecchinato played several amazing points in crucial moments, so there is nothing for me to do but congratulate him.”
Cecchinato wasn't the only successful representative of Italy. Another Italian player was successful after the first day, having recorded the first victory in his career. This is another player who came through the qualifiers, Giulio Zeppieri, who won in three sets against Argentinian Cachino, with a final result of 3:6, 6:1, 6:4. However, the champion of Umag 2016 didn't have the same success – Fabio Fognini couldn't make it past the first round, having lost to the Colombian Galano (6:3, 5:7, 6:3).
The first round ends on Tuesday, with some particularly interesting matches to be played on the central court, when the remaining two Croatian players, as well as Lorenzo Mussini, who won Hamburg on Sunday, have their matches. Dino Prižmić, who hasn't even celebrated his 17th birthday yet, will become this year’s youngest player when he takes to the court to face Spain’s Bernabé Zapata Miralles in the main draw of the ATP tournament (4 p.m.). They will be followed by Duje Ajduković and Slovak Alex Molčan, while the programme will be closed out by Italian Musetti and Slovenian Aljaž Bedene, with his farewell tournament appearance.
Once again, Umag will be the capital of tennis, and apart from the main tournament, almost 500 amateur players will participate in accompanying tournaments, such as the traditional VIP tournament, HEPi tournament, Umag Stars Open and the third ITF wheelchair tennis tournament.