Mariano Navone flies under radar and knocks on the top-30 door

Mariano Navone is world no. 31 with only one Masters 1000 win and no Major matches!

by Jovica Ilic
Mariano Navone flies under radar and knocks on the top-30 door
© Stream screenshot

The 23-year-old Mariano Navone will become world no. 31 on Monday after claiming the Sardegna Open Challenger title in Cagliari. Navone took down Lorenzo Musetti 7-5, 6-1 in an hour and 47 minutes, lifting his sixth Challenger title within 11 months and continuing his impressive progress!

The Argentine has passed around 200 rivals on the ATP ranking list in the previous 12 months, achieving that in a unique way. Mariano is on the verge of entering the top-30 with only one victory at Majors and Masters 1000 events, earning 30 ATP points on the biggest tennis stage following a win at the Madrid Masters!

Navone closed the 2023 season ranked 125th and was yet to debut on the ATP level! After reaching a Challenger final at the beginning of the season, Mariano collected a couple of early exits before showing his A-game at the ATP 500 event in Rio.

Lorenzo Musetti, Cagliari Challenger 2024© Stream screenshot

The Argentine passed three qualifying rounds and entered the main action, playing his second ATP tournament after competing in Buenos Aires the previous week as a qualifier.

Navone hit the zone in Rio, ousting Federico Coria for his first ATP win. Not stopping there, Mariano defeated Yannick Hanfmann, Joao Fonseca and world no. 23 Cameron Norrie for a place in the title clash! World no. 113 run out of gas against Sebastian Baez, falling 6-2, 6-1 and ending his campaign with the first ATP final.

Navone took a break and stayed away from the court until March, returning as a top-60 player in Marrakech. The Argentine embraced another deep run, reaching the semi-final before losing a tight battle to Matteo Berrettini. Two weeks later, Mariano entered his fourth ATP tournament in Bucharest and reached the second final, losing to Marton Fucsovics in straight sets.

Mariano Navone, Cagliari Challenger 2024© Stream screenshot

Mariano Navone claimed his sixth Challenger title in Cagliari over Lorenzo Musetti.

Not stopping there, Navone clinched his first Masters 1000 win in Madrid, beating Alexei Popyrin in straight sets and arranging the clash versus Holger Rune.

It was a massive battle that went on for lamost three hours. The Dane prevailed 5-7, 7-6, 6-4 after seizing the sixth match point. They kicked off the action with four breaks in the opening six games before serving better in the next four.

Navone secured the third and decisive break at 5-5, closing the opener with a fine hold in game 12 and moving in front. The Argentine denied two break points in the eighth game of the second set and clinched a break in game 11 that could have pushed him over the top against world no.

12. However, Rune broke back at the last moment at 5-6, introducing a decider and winning it 7-2 to force a decider. The Dane scored back-to-back breaks and forged a 5-1 advantage.

Mariano Navone & Lorenzo Musetti, Cagliari Challenger 2024© Stream screenshot

Navone saved a break point on serve in the seventh game and pulled one break back in the next one to extend the battle.

The Argentine held in game nine and created a break chance at 4-5, hoping for a complete turnaround. Instead, Holger saved it and seized the sixth match point, emerging at the top and ousting the lower-ranked player. Navone returned to Challengers and entered the strong Sardegna Open in Cagliari as the 3rd seed.

Mariano started the action from the second round, beating a qualifier Shintaro Mochizuki in three sets. The Argentine trailed 4-1 in the final set against Emilion Nava in the quarter-final, erasing the deficit and prevailing in the tie break to secure a spot in the last four.

Navone defeated the home player Luciano Darderi in the semi-final and set the title clash against another home star, Lorenzo Musetti.

Mariano Navone, Cagliari Challenger 2024© Stream screenshot

Mariano prevailed in the opener after 70 minutes and dominated set number two, winning his sixth Challenger title and adding 175 ATP points to his tally.

Navone served at 80% and made the difference with the first serve, defending six out of eight break points and pushing hard on the return. Musseti could not find the range behind the initial shot, dropping 55% of the points and offering Navone 13 break chances.

The Argentine clinched six, including three in a row in the second set, sealing the deal in straight sets and lifting the trophy. Lorenzo netted a routine forehand in the first game of the encounter, losing serve at 15. The Italian pulled the break back in game two before playing another loose service game to find himself 2-1 behind.

Mariano defended three break points in the fourth game, producing the first hold of the match and moving 3-1 in front when his rival netted a backhand.

Mariano Navone, Cagliari Challenger 2024© Stream screenshot

Navone served well in games six and eight and created two set points on the return at 5-3.

Musetti denied them and held, extending the set and pulling the break back at the last moment in game ten after Navone's forehand error. Instead of building on that, Lorenzo struggled behind the initial shot in game 11, losing serve after a forced error and experiencing another setback.

Mariano served for the set at 6-5 and seized the third set point, landing a backhand crosscourt winner after Lorenzo's net cord and gaining a massive boost. The Argentine served well in the second set, and the Italian failed to match that pace, struggling in every service game.

Navone clinched a break in the third game and held at 30 in the next one for a 3-1 advantage. The top seed suffered another break in game five and served to stay in the match at 1-5. Navone secured his third straight break of serve, sealing the deal and celebrating his sixth Challenger title since June last year!

Mariano Navone