Mariano Navone arriva in finale a Bucarest: mai vinto uno slam, a Parigi sarà testa di serie?

It is already the second time this year: it may not be a coincidence. Mariano Navone, born in Nueve de Julio, in the province of Buenos Aires, on February 27, 2001, is once again in the final of a major circuit tournament: this time we are in Bucharest, where the Argentine – after defeating the number one seed, fellow countryman Cerundolo, in the continuation of the match interrupted by rain – also eliminated French qualifier Gregoire Barrere. Tomorrow he will play for the number 36 position. On February 19, he was number 113.

We have already talked about his juvenile scoliosis, financial difficulties, and the change in the grip of his forehand here. Just know that Navone, despite his young age, already has a well-defined profile: a traditional clay-courter, like the ones of the past, especially those in South America that are becoming rare. The names of the locations where he achieved his first successes in 2023 Challenger tournaments quickly reveal their provincial and confined yet universally valuable dimension: Santa Fe, Buenos Aires, Santa Cruz de la Sierra, and again Santa Fe. Along with Poznan, that makes five: no one has won more Challenger titles than Navone in the past season.

2024 was supposed to be the year of his definitive arrival on the major circuit. So far, it has been: his first major achievement came at the Rio de Janeiro 500 event, where Mariano reached the quarterfinals from the qualifications, knocking out the young Fonseca; the next day, he defeated none other than Cameron Norrie; in the final, he was easily beaten by Sebastian Baez. This was enough for him to break into the top 100 and, after resting during the Sunshine Double on cement, return threateningly to Marrakech. There, Navone defeated Stan Wawrinka (or the shadow of Stan Wawrinka… but it’s always the shadow of Stan Wawrinka!); he then made it to the semifinals: there, after winning the first set in a tiebreak, he was overcome by the eventual tournament winner, Matteo Berrettini. In Bucharest, the clash with another Italian (in what was actually a derby), Luciano Darderi, smiled upon him this time. The rest is history.

The prospects: worst case scenario, Navone will be ranked 41st in the world on Monday; best case scenario, he will be 36th. If he maintains the rhythm of the past months – with nine finals in the last eleven – it is not unreasonable to predict that he will be a seeded player in Paris. It would be a curious case: the Argentine has never won a match in Grand Slam events. Melbourne, Paris, London, New York: he has always lost in the first round of qualifying. Nevertheless, pay attention to this new entry, as the English would say: in the weeks leading up to the Roland Garros, his presence in the draw could be unwelcome to more than a few players.