Rio de Janeiro | Countrymen Baez and Navone reach final

An all-Argentine final line up for the Rio Open championship in Rio de Janeiro pitching the qualifier, Mariano Navone against his more experienced countryman Sebastain Baez, the fifth seed at the ATP 500 level event.

It's hard but I always try to be focussed on the next point, on the next game, every time thinking about my game and what I have to do Sebastan Baez

Baez arrived in the final after defeating the fourth seed, Francisco Cerundolo 7-5 6-0 in another all-Argentine encounter in which he fended off three set points at 4-5 in the opening set on Saturday.

Having failed to make a breakthrough, the fourth seeded Cerundolo’s game crumbled as Baez reeled off nine games to progress into the final, the fifth of his career.

“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, converting four of his seven break chances.

“It’s hard but I always try to be focussed on the next point, on the next game, every time thinking about my game and what I have to do,” Baez said.

Cerundolo struggled with 39 unforced errors, including 26 off his backhand wing. Despite the loss, he will return to the Top 20 in the rankings on Monday.

In Saturday’s second semi-final, Navone continued his dream week with a 6-4 6-2 win against a physically struggling Brit, the defending champion, Cameron Norrie, the second seed.


A distressed Cameron Norrie hangs his head

(Photo by Buda Mendes/Getty Images)

While Norrie struggled with his breathing throughout the match and received visits from the physiotherapist and tournament doctor, fought hard throughout, despite his obvious problems, to force the Argentine to work hard for his place in the final.

By beating his first Top 50 opponent, Navone became the first qualifier to reach an ATP 500 final since the Czech Jiri Vesely achieved that in Dubai in 2022.

“It was incredible,” Navone said post-match. “It’s a pleasure to play here in Rio, my first ATP 500. I’m very happy to make the final, my first final. I played so good all week and I hope [to win] the title tomorrow.”


Mariano Navone continues his dream run as a qualifier

(Photo by Buda Mendes/Getty Images)



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