Sebastian Baez has reached the biggest ATP Tour final of his career…
The 23-year-old Argentine professional tennis player faced three set points at 4-5 in the opening set on Saturday at the Rio Open. He saved each one under pressure from compatriot Francisco Cerundolo and didn’t lose another game en route to a 7-5, 6-0 victory at the ATP 500.
Baez’s nine-game tear earned him the win in his first semifinal above ATP 250 level. He will now play for his fifth and biggest tour-level title on Sunday.
While Baez twice beat Cerundolo on the ATP Challenger Tour in 2021, Saturday’s win was his first in the pair’s ATP Head2Head series, which is now level at 1-1.
“We know each other too much, I think more than I want,” Baez joked after the win. “All matches are different. Today it’s going to my side. In the first set, I gave many break points to him. I had to take it because it’s so hard for both.”
After an early trade of breaks, Baez saved six consecutive break points in the one-hour, 24-minute match. He converted on four of his seven break chances and won more than half of his return points, according to Infosys ATP Stats.
“It’s hard but I always try to be focused on the next point, on the next game, every time thinking about my game and what I have to do,” Baez said of his surge through the finish line.
Cerundolo, who was also bidding to reach his first final above the ATP 250 level, struggled with 39 unforced errors, including 26 off his backhand wing. Despite the loss, he will return to the Top 20 in the ATP Rankings on Monday.
Baez is up seven places to No. 23 this week in the ATP Live Rankings, setting himself up for a career high. He could move up to No. 21 with the Rio title.