FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – Exactly seven years ago as a young lad of 18, Brazil’s Felipe Meligeni Rodriguez Alves capped off a solid junior career with the boys’ doubles title at the US Open junior tournament.
He and Bolivia’s Juan Carlos Aguilar (who now represents Canada), defeated Canadians Benjamin Sigouin and a 16-year-old named Félix Auger-Aliassime in the final.
It took seven looooooong years. But at 25, Meligeni Alves playded the first main-draw match of his career at the Grand Slam level Tuesday.
And he won it.
Meligeni Alves was a good junior – not a great one. He peaked after that US Open at No. 31 in the rankings, helped by the points gained from that doubles title as he lost in the first round of the junior boys singles draw.
He beat a number of players of his generation who broke through before he did on the junior clay – Tomas Martin Etcheverry, Ugo Carabelli, Genaro Olivieri, three-time ATP 2023 titlist Sebastian Baez (most of whom were younger than he was at the time).
A long road to Flushing
But he had pretty much been languishing in the 200s, and higher 100s, for the last three years, slowed down as many were by the pandemic.
He had been squeezing into Grand Slam qualifying events since 2021, and made the final round at Roland Garros in 2021. But he lost in the final round both at Roland Garros this year and at Wimbledon, where he went in at a career-high ranking of No. 129.
Last week in New York, he finally broke through – seven years after that junior title.
Meligeni Alves defeated young Czech Dalibor Svrcina, and a paid of seeded Argentines – No. 29 Facungo Bagnis and, in the final round, No. 3 Federico Coria.
The score in that one was 6-4, 5-7, 7-5. It seems Meligeni Alves owns the Argentines just as he did in the juniors.
For his first round on Tuesday, he caught somewhat of a break. He was due to play former US Open finalist Kei Nishikori.
But Nishikori couldn’t make the date; instead, he faces Aussie lucky loser James Duckworth – and beat him in straight sets.