The second edition of the ATP Challenger Split Open will have a Slovenian winner after Blaž Rola and Blaž Kavčič celebrated in Saturday's semifinal matches. Rola eliminated Andrea Collarini in the marathon, while Kavčič made up for the set deficit for the fourth time in the victory over Kacper Žuk.

 

In the best match of the tournament, Rola defeated Andrea Collarini 7:6 (3), 6:7 (3), 6:4 after three hours and 18 minutes of play. It was a clash of left-handed tennis players worthy of the final, with a handful of great moves and excitement. In the third set, it seemed that the Argentine would win after taking the lead 3:1, but Rola responded with a "break" and took the lead 5:4. He put pressure on Collarini's serve and created two match points. He missed a forehand on the first, and a "passing" backhand on the second. However, he won the third, which he used with a beautiful backhand parallel. It would not have been undeserved if Collarini had won, but in the end, the winner was the 193 cm tall Slovenian.

 

 

- How do I feel? Tired, haha. I didn't know that it would be such a difficult and long match. Collarini played very well in the third set, there was nothing I could do when he had a break. I was disappointed that I didn't play better in the "tie break" of the second set - said the 30-year-old from Ptuj, once a great university tennis player in America for Ohio State University.

 

- The two missed match points did not shake me. I played well in that game. I didn't shoot too many backhand parallels in the match, so he might have been surprised when I pulled it to win - added the No 6 seed, who has won four Challengers in his career. The last one in Leon, Mexico, two years ago.
As he wished after the match, so it came true - in the final he welcomed his compatriot, partner and colleague Blaž Kavčič, who extended the series started in the qualifications. And he turned it around again, for the fourth time in total. With the result 2:6, 6:3, 6:2, he defeated the Pole Kacper Zhuk.

 

 

- I was very tired and I didn't think I would last until the end, but when the crisis passed, I started to play and serve better. It took me a while to find the rhythm. In the first round of qualifying, I started with 0: 4 and thought about going home, and now I am in the finals. I can't believe it - said the 34-year-old from Ljubljana after the match, who won 17 titles in Challenger tournaments. In Split, he is going for the first trophy from Shanghai in 2018.
Not only are both Slovenian finalists named Blaž, but they also have the same coach. And his name is BlaŽ too, and surname Trupej. Incredibly.

 

- We train together every day and I have no idea how is it going to be. This is the first time I have a situation like this. I don’t know if the coach will individually do the tactics or not. If I already have to lose to someone, then it's better to be to Blaž, but of course, I'm going for the win - said Kavčič, who is has a result of 3-0 with Rolo.
Tournament director Ismar Moralić also commented on the Slovenian final:

 

- I don't know if it ever happened at the ATP or WTA level, so I'm telling Slovenian colleagues that we are ready if they want a TV broadcast!

 

The finals of the second edition of the Split Open are scheduled for Sunday at 11 a.m. at the Central Court.