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Simone Bolelli is turning heads in his singles comeback in Santiago.

Bolelli Soaring In Singles Comeback

Italian reaches semi-finals of Santiago Challenger

It often takes players a minimum of several tournaments to regain their form when coming back from an injury, but Simone Bolelli is proving to be an exception to that rule.

The 31-year-old Italian is competing at this week’s $50,000 ATP Challenger Tour event in Santiago, Chile, his second foray into singles since last year at Roland Garros. He defeated seventh seed and fellow Italian Alessandro Gianessi in the opening round for his first singles win in 11 months, then went on to beat fourth seed Taro Daniel of Japan in the quarter-finals on Thursday.

Bolelli dealt with left knee issues throughout the first half of 2016 before undergoing an operation in June. After months of intense physical therapy, he is now healthy and eager to climb back up the Emirates ATP Rankings. 

“I’m feeling fine physically and the knee is fine. The process after my surgery was a difficult one because I couldn’t move the way I wanted on court until January, but now I’m happy to be playing without pain,” said Bolelli. “I just need time to adjust, get used to playing singles again and keep working hard.”

Bolelli returned to the ATP World Tour in February, teaming with fellow Italian Fabio Fognini for semi-final showings at the Argentina Open and Brasil Open. He also took his first step towards a singles comeback, competing in the qualifying draw at the former event. 

The Italian is eager to get back to the level he enjoyed prior to his injury woes. In 2015, he reached seven ATP World Tour quarter-finals and scored Top 10 wins over Milos Raonic and Tomas Berdych. Bolelli also won his first Grand Slam doubles title that same year with Fognini at the Australian Open.

However, Bolelli knows it will likely take time to reach those same heights. He’s committed to building up his ranking in Challengers and focusing first and foremost on staying healthy. 

“I didn’t play a singles match since last April, so I have to be patient. I’m trying not to put extra pressure on myself,” he said. “My first goal everyday is to just go on court, try to improve and enjoy what I do. But the ultimate goal is to finish the year inside the Top 100.”

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