An Argentinian as a “spoiler”

The n.1 of the draw is confirming the spectacular form of these months. “I would like to continue like this, learning to win even when I play badly. Next year there are the Olympics, I would like to play them…”

Scrolling through the golden register, there are three Argentines. Federico Coria is the reigning champion, then Federico Delbonis and Guido Pella won in the past, heroes of the Davis Cup triumph in 2016. Davis is one of the dreams of Facundo Diaz Acosta, one of the new exponents of a country with a great tradition, in search of the glories of the past. Number 115 at the ATP, he is the number 1 seed and reached the semifinals without losing a set. In the quarterfinals he had a delicate engagement against the muscular Gauthier Onclin: it could only be a physical match, made up of very long rallies, moreover with a game (the quarter of the match) with a record duration of 24 points. The 22-year-old Belgian won it, but a couple of hours later it was the native of Buenos Aires who celebrated his 23rd birthday in December and back from a spectacular season: out of the top-200 at the beginning of the year, he halved his ranking and could bring it to double digits in a very short time. If he wins in Milan, making the trio after the successes in Savannah and Oeiras, he should be around number 96 . “It was a very physical match against Onclin, plus I was quite nervous – admits Diaz Acosta, winner with a score of 6-4 6-3 – there was humidity and a lot of heat, yes he was sweating a lot. The objective was to stay focused on the game and not on external factors, as well as adopting the right tactics. Luckily I stayed focused in the difficult moments, I found my best tennis when needed and I’m happy about it”. True, because in the second set he was trailing 3-1 but managed to win the last five games, crumbling Onclin’s resistance. And he wasn’t obvious. “I’m having a good season, but it’s not like I’ve done anything different during preparation – he says – I’m simply growing and gaining experience. In this way, the right level arrives and trust grows”. This year, the Argentine who has made the greatest progress has been Tomas Etcheverry, a fourth-finalist at Roland Garros, a year older than Diaz Acosta. He too has experienced this type of tournament: when we ask Diaz Acosta if he thinks he can become the new Etcheverry, he sighs. He thinks about it for a moment, then says: “Yes… but everyone has his own growth, his own path. With Tomas we have known each other since childhood, as well as with Francisco Cerundolo and Sebastian Baez. We played a lot together, so it is possible that he feels closer to the finish line because he has achieved it, but everyone has their own difficulties to overcome ” .


To achieve this, Diaz Acosta has been relying for ten years on the academy of Mariano Monachesi and Mariano Hood, in the Nunez district of Buenos Aires, a stone’s throw from the River Plate stadium. In Milan he is accompanied by Juan Manuel Tiscornia, one of the academy coaches, but contact with the base is constant. Hood once said that every now and then Diaz Acosta forgets that he’s left-handed, and when that happens he gets weaker. “We’ve been working together for ten years, and in fact it’s something I’ve been committed to for some time – says the Bonaerense – on a tactical level I have to take advantage of being left-handed, using my forehand a lot and maximizing the service”. Indeed, seeing him play brings to mind Guido Pella, winner in Milan six years ago and capable of obtaining great results on the major circuit. “Well, he has a great backhand, better than mine – Diaz Acosta scoffs – I try to control the rally a little more and use my forehand more. It may be a similar game, but there are some differences. A career like his? He was spectacular, but I don’t know if I would sign: one always hopes to do the best. Among other things, he’s coming back, he’s reached the third round at Wimbledon … let’s say I’d really like to get into the top-30”. To do that, however, he’ll have to play a lot of tournaments on hard courts. For now, nearly all of his 548 ATP points have come on clay. “On the Challenger circuit there is a greater possibility of choosing in programming – he says – today I should favor clay, because in Argentina we play and train mainly on clay. But I can also play well on hard courts: in the few tournaments I’ve played I’ve had a good time. I fought with Garin, I lost in the third match with Hanfmann… if I play a little more, I can certainly do well”. When it comes to goals, Diaz Acosta speaks as… a proletarian of the racket, without exceeding in flights of fancy: “This year I would like to maintain this level, play many games and win even by playing badly . After all, it’s the difference with 2022: last year I only won when I played well, but one of the most important things in tennis is to win even when you’re not having the day. Let’s say that I would like to carry on like this and, God willing, end the year playing the ATP tournaments. But I’m serene, it’s not something that robs me of sleep”. Facundo can’t take his feet off the ground even when it comes to dreams: “Well, I really love the Davis Cup and playing for Argentina…”. On the other hand, he won silver at the Youth Olympics and gold at the South American Games, so he’s already tasted the weight of the Albiceleste shirt. “Next year there are the Olympics in Paris. Here, getting to play them would be a really good goal…”