Cobolli vows to get RG tattoo if he qualifies

 - Alex Sharp

Italian says reaching main draw would be 'dream come true'

Flavio Cobolli, Roland-Garros 2023, qualifying second round© Loïc Wacziak/FFT

'Forza' was ringing around Roland-Garros on Wednesday with a duo of Italian youngsters punching their tickets to the final round of qualifying.

Close friends Flavio Cobolli and Giulio Zeppieri found the answers in straight sets to keep their flag flying high.

Cobolli, vying for a maiden ticket to a Grand Slam main draw, will mark the occasion permanently should his "dream come true" by escaping qualifying.

"I have a lot of tattoos, three for my football team, a few for my girlfriend. I go to the tattoo artist and never have a plan. I have one with a song on," said the 21-year-old, following his 6-4, 6-4 triumph over Lukas Klein.

"For sure (if I qualify), I will go get the Roland-Garros logo, let’s see."

The world No.159 isn't shying away from the main stage, should he made it into the elite 128 in Paris, Cobolli wants a box-office battle.

"It is one of the goals of my life to play Grand Slams. If I get to play (Novak) Djokovic, on a key court, that would be unbelievable." 

Cobolli, a boys' doubles champion at Roland-Garros 2020 alongside Dominic Stricker, is playing with his "strongest ever" confidence, having reached the Munich ATP 250 quarter-finals all the way from qualifying last month.

It is reward for the 21-year-old's patience in chasing down his peers from the junior days, such as world No.1 Carlos Alcaraz, Holger Rune and compatriot Lorenzo Musetti.

"I'm the next one, the next star" quipped Cobolli, who next takes on home favourite Laurent Lokoli. "I work a lot for that. These guys are something else, so I need to keep my head down to reach the top 100 first.

"I think I deserve it. The game I have built puts players in trouble and makes it difficult.

"Today must be one of my best matches of the year. Now we can see with the team, my improvements in recent months."

Earlier on Wednesday, Zeppieri made his way back into the final round of qualifying. 

The 21-year-old successfully completed qualifying in Paris last season, before suffering a straight-sets defeat to Hubert Hurkacz.

"It was unbelievable, it was my first Grand Slam. I qualified after beating Andreas Seppi in the first round, a very special player in Italy, so I'll never forget it," said the Next Gen Italian.

"As soon as I had my first practice this year, I immediately felt good with the memories of these courts, the crowd, it's amazing to be back at this stage."

Giulio Zeppieri, Roland-Garros 2023, qualifying second round© Andre Ferreira/FFT

Zeppieri is thrilled to be joined by the likes of Cobolli in advancing to the final round, providing further proof of the enviable depth and quality in Italian tennis.

"The federation continues to do an amazing job. Also, we all grew up together, six or seven players close to the top 100, definitely inside top 150, at the same age," he added.

"Of course, we push each other. We don't have loads of pressure because we are not alone. We are close friends, we are close to each other, so I hope that everyone can break the Top 100 to stay on the tour together."