Rafael Nadal's favorite youngster scores a Challenger victory

Abdullah Shelbayh defeated Franco Agamenone in Ottignies-Louvain-La-Neuve

by Jovica Ilic
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Rafael Nadal's favorite youngster scores a Challenger victory
© Stream screenshot

The 20-year-old Abdullah Shelbayh has put Jordan on the tennis map. The young gun works in Mallorca at Rafa Nadal's complex, gathering experience after training with a 22-time Major winner and making a name for himself. Abdullah wrote history for his country last year, winning the Charleston Challenger and becoming the first Jordanian player with a trophy at this level.

Shelbayh almost qualified for the Australian Open main draw two weeks ago, winning the opening set before falling to Omar Jasika. The 20-year-old is back in Europe, entering the Ottignies-Louvain-La-Neuve Challenger and making a winning start.

Abdullah's 18th Challenger victory came in the first round against Italy's Franco Agamenone, earning a 6-4, 6-3 triumph in 69 minutes. The Jordanian served at 51% and drew the most from that, defending his second serve nicely and saving two out of three break points.

Agamenone could not follow that pace, struggling behind the second serve and experiencing three breaks from seven chances offered to his opponent.

Abdullah Shelbayh made a winning start at an indoor Challenger in Belgium.

They produced nine comfortable holds at the beginning of the duel, using an indoor court and keeping the returners empty-handed.

The 20-year-old closed the encounter's first game with a forehand winner, and the Italian responded with a hold at love in game two after a serve & volley. A left-handed Jordanian held at love in the third game and repeated that at 2-2 to stay on the positive side.

Franco landed a volley winner at the net in the sixth game, presenting a hold at love and locking the result at 3-3. Shelbayh grabbed the seventh game after deuce after the rival's forehand mistake, and Agamenone followed that pace with a booming serve in the next one.

The young gun fired a service winner in the ninth game, moving 5-4 in front and keeping the pressure on the other side. The Italian served to stay in the set in game ten and sprayed a forehand error to experience three set points.

Abdullah seized the third, wrapping up the opener 6-4 after 29 minutes.

Abdullah Shelbayh, Ottignies-Louvain-La-Neuve Challenger 2024© Stream screenshot

The second set saw more deuces, lasting more than the first despite fewer games.

Franco kicked off the action with a break in the first game after a cracking backhand crosscourt winner. Agamenone stayed in front only for a couple of minutes, netting a volley in game two and bringing his opponent back to 1-1.

The Italian served two break points in the fourth game, and the Jordanian did the same in the next one to open a 3-2 gap with a backhand down the line winner. Agamenone wasted a 40-15 lead in the sixth game and hit a costly double fault to find himself 4-2 behind.

Shelbayh held after deuce in game seven thanks to a forehand down the line winner, moving 5-2 up and serving for the victory in game nine. Abdullah landed a forehand crosscourt winner for three match points and seized the first with a powerful serve to emerge at the top and advance into the second round.

Rafael Nadal
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