First round defeat for farewell in Gardena-Gröden
Thank you Andreas Seppi: On Tuesday evening, Andreas Seppi's career came to an end at his home tournament in Val Gardena/Gröden. The 38-year-old from Kaltern ended his glittering career after more than 20 years on the ATP Tour. Seppi was one of the pillars of Italian tennis over the last two decades, ranked 18th in the world, played 67 Slam tournaments and won three tournaments.
Tonight he played his last match on the centre court of Ortisei and lost in the first round of the Sparkasse Challenger Val Gardena after a two-hour battle against Yannick Hanfmann. The final score was 5:7, 6:3, 6:4 in favour of the German, who will fight on Wednesday against Borna Gojo for a place in the quarter-finals.
Many people came to watch the last match of the Kalterer at his home tournament. 500 people, including Governor Arno Kompatscher, his family and friends from Kaltern. Everyone saw an exciting match. Seppi was down 3:5 in the first set, but won the first set after defending four set points. In the second set it looked as if he could make another comeback. After trailing 1:4, he came back to 3:4, but with a break in the eighth game, Hanfmann took a 5:3 lead and equalised. The third set seemed to be going in the right direction for Seppi, who had four balls to go 4-1 up, but Hanfmann came back into the match and ended Seppi's career.
"They were fantastic years. I never thought I could play at this level for so long. An important chapter of my life is closing, but an even more beautiful one is starting with my family," Seppi said with a few tears in his eyes. He thanked his parents, his wife, coach Massimo Sartori. The Ortisei Tournament will say goodbye to him with a big party in his honour on Friday evening at 8.30 pm.
Before Seppi, Francesco Cobolli, the tournament's number six seed, had secured a place in the second round. He won the Italian derby against Lorenzo Giustino 7:6 (4), 6:4 and is the fifth Italian to reach the last 16 of the tournament in Gardena-Gröden.
The last Italian still to play his first round match is Mattia Bellucci. He will play Frenchman Antoine Escoffier on Wednesday at 10am. Bellucci comes to Val Gardena after winning twelve matches and two tournaments in a row. He won the Challenger in Saint-Tropez and Hamburg and has been ranked number 156 in the world since Monday, his best ranking so far.