Andrea Arnaboldi Gets His Shot at a Wimbledon Run

Andrea Arnaboldi Wimbledon

Andrea Arnaboldi is 31-years-old. He’s never won a Challenger singles title, with his only triumphs coming on the Future’s tour. And that hasn’t happened since 2013. Indeed, the Italian has only appeared in one Challenger final in his career, which came last year in Portoroz. He won three games.

At the Majors, Arnaboldi has only appeared in the main draw twice in his career, with both  coming at the French Open. However, he did score an impressive win from two-sets down against James Duckworth in 2015 to claim his first and thus far only win at a Grand Slam. But he was dismissed 6-7 1-6 1-6 in the second round by then-reigning US Open champion Marin Cilic.

This year has been a steady one of for Arnaboldi, but not so good enough that he has made any real progress towards besting his career-high ranking of world #153. He’s 13-17 on the season, and currently ranked 209th in the world. On grass this year before Wimbledon, he had compiled a record of 1-1, falling in qualifying at the ATP Tour 250 in Rosmalen. He in fact came close to failing to gain direct entry to Wimbledon qualifying at Roehampton.

But these struggles surely made Arnaboldi’s stunning success in Roehampton all the more sweet for the 31-year-old. In the first round against British wildcard Ryan Peniston, Arnaboldi had found himself 2-5 down in the third set, despite having won the first 6-1. But, just as Arnaboldi has done throughout his tennis career, he hung in there and fought tooth and nail to survive. And he won six of the last seven games to move into the second round.

The second round of qualifying was also far from a walk in the park. Taking on Hiroki Moriya, who had upset Germany’s Yannick Maden in the first round, Arnaboldi found himself down a set. But, just like against Peniston, when Arnaboldi’s back was against the wall, he came out swinging and won nine of the last 11 games to take the match, (0)6-7, 6-4, 6-2.

The final qualifying round against Evgeny Karlovskiy proved to be a huge mental test for Arnaboldi. It is played in a best-of-five sets format and the only time Arnaboldi had previously made it so far in the Wimbledon qualifying he had lost in straight sets to Dustin Brown. But up two sets and a break against Karlovskiy, he looked to be in complete control of the match.

Unfortunately it was to prove anything but straightforward for Arnaboldi. He threw away his lead in the third set and soon found the match tied  at two sets all. It would have been easy for Arnaboldi to throw in the towel with Karlovskiy in the ascendancy. But Arnaboldi steadied himself, got up a break, and saved all nine break points he faced in the fifth set to make the Wimbledon main draw.

Arnaboldi never gave in, he fought his heart out and was rewarded with a place in the main draw at the All England Club, as well as at least £45,000 in prize money. Had he fallen to Peniston in the first round he would have walked away with just £7,000. There he will face Ivo Karlovic. Karlovic, one of the biggest servers in tennis, reached the quarterfinals of Wimbledon in 2009, losing to eventual champion Roger Federer. Whilst Karlovic, now 40-years-old, is not the force he once was, he is still serving very well and is a dangerous opponent indeed on a grass court.

Arnaboldi doesn’t have a huge serve himself, but is a lefty with a crafty, all-court game. His one-handed backhand is a joy to watch, and his backhand slice, which stays very low, should be tough for the 6’11 Karlovic to deal with. Arnaboldi’s lefty serves out wide should also be effective against Karlovic.

However, Arnaboldi will still have to deal with the huge Karlovic serve with tiebreaks all but certain. How Arnaboldi holds his nerve could determine how the match plays out. But Arnaboldi won his only tiebreaker in qualifying and he has shown throughout his past three matches that he is in the right frame of mind to handle tight situations in matches.

If Arnaboldi can beat Karlovic, then young gun Stefanos Tsitsipas could be his opponent in the second round. But, regardless of what happens, just making the main draw at Wimbledon is a huge accomplishment. Arnaboldi participated in fellow touring professional Noah Rubin’s Behind the Racquet, where he gave some insights into his life. In his Behind the Racquet post, he stated, “How I feel, as other players may understand, is that there are many times where I do not enjoy the sport. I truly love the sport but it comes with too much pressure”

While it was saddening to read what Arnaboldi had to say, he should be proud of the way he has played so far on the grass courts of south-west London. And after handling the pressures of the qualifying at Roehampton perfectly, Arnaboldi is about to get his shot at a Wimbledon run.

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