Portuguese tennis player João Sousa returned to competition today, two months later, with a victory in the first round of the Porto Open, a tournament of the ATP Challenger Tour category, which takes place in Porto.
Current 352nd in the world ranking, João Sousa had a complicated task against Italian Mattia Bellucci, 176th in the world hierarchy, having lost the first part by 7-5 (7-5), but turned around in the next two, which he won by double 6-4, in two hours and 44 minutes.
“I have to highlight the support of the public. They came out in force, they supported me, they didn’t leave after a less successful first set and that made the difference. To be honest, I wasn’t expecting to feel this affection at all”, said João Sousa, at the press conference following the match.
The Vimaranense player highlighted the presence of the public, after the appeal he made on Sunday, expressing his delight at seeing the stadium almost full and people shouting his name.
“The environment I played in was incredible and this is why I still play tennis”, said João Sousa, who, in the next round, will face the winner of the match between Russian Alibek Kachmanov (327th) and French qualifier Kenny de Schepper (420th).
In addition to João Sousa, two other Portuguese players won their respective matches today, but to ensure their presence in the main draw, with Jaime Faria (516) beating Ukrainian Aleksandr Braynin (765), by 6-4 and 7-5, and João Domingues (541) his compatriot Pedro Araújo (938), by 6-2, 4-6 and 6-0.
In the main draw, Jaime Faria and João Domingues will face, respectively, Frenchman Hugo Grenier (143rd and third seed) and Kazakh Denis Yevseyev (340th and champion of a Challenger in Astana on Sunday).