Three years ago, amidst the bleak landscape of the Covid-19 pandemic, Alessandro Petrone caught sight of an aspiring talent in Sanremo. Matteo Arnaldi, drenched by the rain, was ardently running along the shoreline. "I witnessed him jogging in that downpour and thought, 'This is someone extraordinary, even daring to run in these conditions during a pandemic," Petrone recounted to ATPTour.com.
"That's when I recognized there's something inherently unique about him." Since 2021, Petrone has been Arnaldi’s guiding force. Their hard work and chemistry have culminated this week as the young Italian phenom sails into the fourth round of the US Open, setting the stage for an electrifying contest against top-seeded defending champion, Carlos Alcaraz.
"Carlos has consistently showcased remarkable tennis. Being deep into the US Open, I anticipate a highly focused performance from him. Sometimes top-tier players might approach initial rounds with a bit of relaxation, but now, stakes are high," observed Petrone.
"However, the real variable here is Matteo's performance."
Arnaldi's Meteoric Rise in Rankings
The trajectory of Arnaldi, a Sanremo native, has been nothing short of meteoric. A year ago, he graced the Next Gen ATP Finals, sitting at No.
134 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings. Fast-forward to today, and he's skyrocketed to No. 47. Petrone pinpoints Arnaldi's watershed moment to the Mutua Madrid Open. Despite not being in the Top 100, Arnaldi not only qualified but also overcame Benoit Paire, and more notably, bested Casper Ruud in an impeccable match featuring over 45 winners.
Post-Madrid, Arnaldi's ascent was relentless. In Rome, he triumphed over Diego Schwartzman, a former Top 10 contender, and reached his first ATP Tour semi-final in Umag. "Our focus has predominantly been on refining his serve, forehand, and returns, given the impeccable serves of players at this caliber," Petrone divulged.
This dedication bore fruit as Arnaldi ousted British No. 1 Cameron Norrie, leveraging five of his six break opportunities. "Matteo's indifferent to his opponent's stature," Petrone mused. "His confidence is unwavering, and he relishes formidable challenges." Beyond the court, Arnaldi's infectious grin is a testament to his passion.
After conquering Norrie, his joy was palpable during the US Open's primary interview. "His perpetual smile emanates from his genuine love for tennis. The rigors of training, gym sessions, or adhering to a disciplined regimen don't daunt him.
His reverence for Djokovic inspires him to emulate the tennis great's work ethic," said Petrone. As Arnaldi gears up to face Alcaraz, Petrone's advice is simple yet profound, "Relish every moment. This experience will be invaluable in forthcoming matches against tennis elites.
While strategy is pivotal, the crux is for him to enjoy the game, the atmosphere, and the world-class arena. Knowing Matteo, he'll undoubtedly do just that."