March 31, 2023

Italian Francesco Passaro staged a remarkable comeback at the Intesa Sanpaolo ATP Finals Wednesday, saving three match points to claw past countryman Matteo Arnaldi 4-3(7), 2-4, 3-4(4), 4-3(4), 4-3(8) in Milan.

In a dramatic clash, Passaro rallied from 1-3 in the fourth set as he overcame heavy cramping to win the set in the tie-break. With his movement limited, the 21-year-old then rallied from a break down in the fifth set before saving three match points in the tie-break to triumph after two hours and 38 minutes in one of the best matches in the
tournament’s history.

“I am very tired,” Passaro said. “It was a really long match and this format I think it is tough and physical. For me it was physical today, with the tension as well, I was cramping. It was not easy. I am really happy to win and I will enjoy.”

Passaro, who is making his debut in Milan, has improved to 1-1 in Red Group. He will play fourth-seeded American Brandon Nakashima in his final round-robin match on Thursday.

With just 15 seconds between points following aces or missed returns, both players raced through their service games, while the one sit-down per set rule led to a fast-paced but physically testing encounter.

Passaro started the season at No. 605 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings. However, he is competing in Milan as the World No. 119 following a standout season that saw him lift his maiden ATP Challenger Tour title.

Nakashima will face Jiri Lehecka in the second Green Group match on Wednesday.

Did You Know?
Passaro’s two-hour, 38-minute victory was the longest match in the five-year history of the Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals. The previous longest match was two-hours, 33-minutes last year when Lorenzo Musetti defeated Hugo Gaston 4-3(4) 4-3(6) 2-4 3-4 (7) 4-2.

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