The young Argentinian will not be the favourite, as he is playing his very first tournament on the main circuit. Facing him is Albert Ramos-Vinolas, a much more experienced player, who will be playing in his ninth final. Of course, experience could make all the difference, but Juan-Manuel Cerundolo's enthusiasm and carelessness should not be overlooked, especially since the Spaniard has already missed out in a similar situation three years ago against a much lower ranked player. Presentation of this final in Cordoba with our consultant Rodolphe Gilbert. First tournament, first final: isn't that nice? Here is the exploit achieved this week by Juan-Manuel Cerundolo, who got out of the qualifications before successively dominating Thiago Seyboth-Wild, Miomir Kecmanovic, Thiago Monteiro and Federico Coria in the main draw. A rare performance since one has to go back to 2004 to see such a case, when Santiago Ventura had reached the last step in Casablanca... before winning the race. If he wins in Córdoba, he will do even better than his compatriots Juan-Ignacio Londero (Córdoba 2019) and especially the great Guillermo Vilas (Buenos Aires 1973), both of them victorious at home for their first professional title, but who already had a few professional matches in their paws. He is also the lowest ranked player (N°335) - excluding former TOP 100 players - to reach the final on the main circuit since John Isner in 2007 in Washington, a time when the American was only the 416th player in the world. Finally, at only 19 years old, he is the youngest Argentinian to achieve such a feat since José Acasuso, who reached the final of the tournament in Buenos Aires at the age of 18, 20 years ago on the dot (in February 2001). "I can't believe I've made it this far," said Juan-Manuel, Francisco's younger brother (22 years old and top ranked: No. 135), who was himself eliminated in the Round of 16 by Coria, who finally got his revenge in the semi-final. Once again, against Guillermo's brother, as in his two previous rounds, the native of Buenos Aires managed to win in 3 heats, showing outstanding fighting qualities. Dry, fluent, his technique on serve is "delbonisian" - in reference to the ball throw in the clouds of Federico Delbonis. In the game, he is tireless. A machine of regularity on the backhand side, sharper on the forehand side, with rounded slaps from the left. His Sunday opponent is also left-handed. And much better known, much more experienced. He is moreover rather widely favoured (an odds of 1,40 against 3,00) but beware, he has already cracked in such a situation: in Quito, 3 years ago, he had failed against Roberto Carballes-Baena, whereas the latter was only in 107th position and was playing... his first final. At 33 years old, Albert Ramos-Vinolas finds himself on the last step of an ATP event for the ninth time. Specialist on clay, he will play his eighth final on this surface. Titled in Bastad (2016) and Gstaad (2019), he has never won in a Spanish-speaking country. The Catalan player, 47th on the ATP but former world No. 17, also reached the final of the Masters 1000 in Monte Carlo (2017) and the quarter-finals at Roland Garros (2016). His patience on the baseline and his skill at building and overcoming his opponents are well proven. The key to the match will perhaps be more psychological than physical. In fact, although Juan-Manuel Cerundolo played 3 more matches (in the qualifiers), the Spaniard also spent a lot of time on the court, winning his 4 matches, respectively against Juan-Ignacio Londero, Tomas-Martin Etcheverry, Diego Schwartzman and Federico Bagnis in the semi-finals, each time in 3 sets. These are two relatively tired players who will meet again, and it is undoubtedly the mental aspect that the Argentinian will have to negotiate at best: will he be able to withstand the pressure of a final on the main circuit, in front of his public? Not easy, but with this young man, everything seems possible. On the contrary, maybe he will be completely free, just to finish the week in beauty. This Sunday seems to smile to the "firsts" - Alexei Popyrin has just won in Singapore -, so why not Juan Manuel Cerundolo? If he lifts the trophy, he will become N°181 in the ATP. In case of defeat, the young Argentinian will be 219th. A jump of more than 100 places, unhoped for before the tournament begins. The stat to remember: In his last 20 matches on clay, when Ramos was rated between 1.40 and 1.50, the Spaniard won only 12 matches and lost 8. Although he is very good when he is an outsider, he is often trapped in the position of favourite. The eye of Rodolphe Gilbert: It is the story of a final between a spirited young man and an experienced "old man". As is often the case, Albert Ramos-Vinolas shows that at 33 years old, he remains a reference on clay. The logic is therefore to place the Spaniard as a favourite. Difficult to do otherwise, given their ranking and track record. But beware, this doesn't mean that Juan-Manuel Cerundolo will take 6-1, 6-1. Mentally, it's a double-edged sword. The Argentinian can crack, but he can also play totally free, thinking that he can well win an extra match after such a course. Perhaps he is one of those players who are not afraid of anything? No one can know. Anyway, even if he is a little bit less young and a little bit more used to the pro circuit, we saw this morning that Alexei Popyrin, for his first final, was able to bounce back after the loss of the first set. It's up to Ramos to be wary and to stay solid. He too can be under a little bit of pressure. Maybe he thinks that at his age, this is one of his last chances to win a title? We've seen that he's already been beaten in this kind of match. So he is a favourite, but it is a match that is still quite open.  


Editor's note

⭐️⭐️⭐️ --- ⭐️⭐️ Cerundolo wins at least one set / At least 20 games in the game ⭐️ Victory Cerundolo

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