We saw plenty of exciting action on Day 1 of the ATP Estoril Open, but the biggest story, especially for the local fans, was Nuno Borges defeating Pablo Andujar. It’s true that the Spaniard is older and far from what he once was, but Borges’s rise is undeniable. Last year at this tournament he came very close to beating Marin Cilic in the second round. At the time he was ranked outside the Top 300; one year later he’s #131 and he has two Challenger titles and two finals since November of last year. The 25-year-old is rising and showing signs that he might eventually become a tour mainstay.
One very peculiar stat about Borges is that he’s won five of his six career matches against Top 100 opponents and all of those matches were played on Portuguese soil. When questioned about it in his press conference, he laughed. “Where do you guys find those stats?” He then pointed out he feels confident that he can trouble any opponent he faces. That includes his second round opponent in Frances Tiafoe. That’s a match Borges has a very real chance of winning, especially with the support of the home crowd, to make his first tour level quarterfinal.
Nuno Borges Past and Future
Borges is also very capable on hard courts, but it’s on clay that his consistency and court craft shine the most. At the rate he’s progressing, it won’t be long until he stars playing Tour events outside Portugal and gets a first Grand Slam appearance. It’s hard to predict just how high he can go; although he’s 25, he’s relatively new to the circuit since he played college tennis at Mississippi State University between 2015 and 2019. Borges was the #1 NCAA player in 2019, finishing runner-up in the national tournament. He is widely recognized as the best tennis player in Mississippi State history.
Ever since he began playing on tour, his results have been steadily improving. He certainly doesn’t have the weapons to be a contender at big events or dream about top 20, but challenging João Sousa for the title of best Portuguese player ever might be a realistic target. It remains to be seen just how long and how far he keeps progressing. A second round encounter with Tiafoe here in Estoril is a great opportunity to make a breakthrough. It’ll arguably be the most exciting Round 2 match of this tournament.
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