Mochizuki Becomes Fourth Teenage Challenger Champion Of 2023
Japan’s Shintaro Mochizuki enjoyed a dream week at the Barletta Challenger, where he became the fourth teenage ATP Challenger Tour champion this season.
The 19-year-old, who won the 2019 Wimbledon boys’ singles title, downed Santiago Rodriguez Taverna 6-1, 6-4 in Sunday’s final to win the Open Citta della Disfida.
Mochizuki’s maiden Challenger trophy comes as a great reward to him and his new coach, former World No. 42 Davide Sanguinetti.
“He’s been helping me the last couple months,” Mochizuki said of the Italian. “It’s been really good. I’m getting a lot of confidence in my game as well. I think how he played when he was playing and how I play is a little bit similar. So I think we are a good match.”
Mochizuki’s semi-final against Franco Agamenone was delayed to Sunday, due to rain, with the Japanese player leading 6-4, 5-7, 3-0. After applying the finishing touches on the Italian, whom Mochizuki beat 6-2 in the decider, the Kawasaki-native returned to court to play his first Challenger final.
Now at a career-high No. 216 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, Mochizuki joins Arthur Fils, Luca Van Assche, and Hamad Medjedovic as teenage Challenger champions in 2023.
Shintaro Mochizuki in action in Barletta, Italy. Credit: Open Città della Disfida.
A longtime fan of Roger Federer, Mochizuki was once the Swiss' hitting partner at the 2019 Nitto ATP Finals after the 20-time major champion caught eye of the Japanese’s junior Wimbledon title that year.
“He’s my hero,” Mochizuki said of Federer in March 2021. “At the  Nitto ATP Finals, I was there as a hitting partner and I got to hit with him. It was a dream. In tennis he hits so easy, just relaxed when he’s playing.
“Many people are just playing with the power and emotions, but he's just hitting balls so easy. He taught me that if you have any chances to play bigger events, just go for it.”
In other Challenger Tour action, Matteo Arnaldi captured his second Challenger title of the season at the Costa Calida Region de Murcia in Spain, where the 22-year-old dropped just one set all week. In the championship match, the Italian defeated Borna Gojo 6-4, 7-6(4).
Arnaldi, who won the Tenerife-2 Challenger in February, competed at the 2022 Next Gen ATP Finals as an alternate, but suffered a round-robin exit.
At a career-high No. 102, Arnaldi now sets his sights on cracking the Top 100 for the first time.
Much like Arnaldi, the Murcia Challenger finalist Gojo is eyeing a Top 100 debut. The Croatian, who also reached the Monterrey Challenger final (l. Borges) in February, is at a career-high No. 108 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings.
Chilean Tomas Barrios Vera earned his second Challenger title and first since August 2021 by claiming the San Luis Open. The 25-year-old ousted Dominik Koepfer 7-6(6), 7-5 to win on the clay courts of San Luis Potosi, Mexico.
Tomas Barrios Vera celebrates winning the San Luis Potosi Challenger. Credit: San Luis Open
Despite falling to Koepfer in the second round of last week’s Mexico City Challenger, where the German went on to triumph, the third seed Barrios Vera avenged his loss to the 28-year-old, improving to 13-6 at the Challenger level this year.
Earlier this season, Barrios Vera reached his maiden tour-level quarter-final in Cordoba before falling to eventual champion Sebastian Baez.