Fernando Meligeni

Fernando Ariel Meligeni (born April 12, 1971), nicknamed Fininho (Portuguese for little thin), is an Argentine-born Brazilian former professional tennis player. He won 3 singles titles and reached the semi-finals of both the 1999 French Open and the 1996 Summer Olympics. He was well-known because of his capacity of fighting at the court, taking matches to the limit (tiebreaks and five sets). His favorite surface was clay. Meligeni is considered by critics one of the best tennis players to represent Brazil, in both singles and doubles.[1]

Fernando Meligeni
Country (sports) Brazil
ResidenceSão Paulo, Brazil
Born (1971-04-12) 12 April 1971 (age 49)
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Height1.80 m (5 ft 11 in)
Turned pro1990
PlaysLeft-handed (one-handed backhand)
Prize money$2,555,367
Career record202–217 (48.2%)
Career titles3
Highest rankingNo. 25 (11 October 1999)
Grand Slam Singles results
Australian Open2R (1997)
French OpenSF (1999)
Wimbledon2R (2001)
US Open3R (1997)
Other tournaments
Olympic GamesSF – 4th (1996)
Career record63–64 (49.6%)
Career titles7
Highest rankingNo. 34 (3 November 1997)
Grand Slam Doubles results
Australian Open2R (2003)
French OpenQF (1998)
US Open1R (1997, 1998)
Team competitions
Davis CupSF (2000)

Personal lifeEdit

Meligeni was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, but moved with his family to São Paulo, Brazil, when he was four years old. He is of Italian descent.

Tennis careerEdit


As a junior, he won the traditional Orange Bowl in 1989, finishing No. 3 in the world junior rankings in the same year.

Pro tourEdit

Meligeni turned professional in 1990, opting for the Brazilian nationality.

He won his first ATP Tour singles title in 1995, at the Swedish Open in Båstad, Sweden. In 1996, Meligeni won his second ATP Tour singles title in Pinehurst, North Carolina, defeating veteran Swede Mats Wilander in the final.

In 1996, ranked 93rd of the ATP Rankings, Meligeni was one off the 64 competitors that would directly enter the upcoming tennis tournament of the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta. Withdrawals due to injuries and personal decisions gave him an alternate spot. With four wins over higher ranked players, Meligeni reached the semi finals, where he was defeated by Spain's Sergi Bruguera. In the Bronze medal game, he lost to Leander Paes of India.[2][3][4]

In 1998, Meligeni won his third and last ATP Tour singles title in Prague, Czech Republic, beating then World No. 6 Yevgeny Kafelnikov from Russia on the way. This year Meligeni had an excellent performance at the 1998 French Open losing at 4th round but playing an incredible match of five tough sets against "king of clay" Thomas Muster.

Meligeni reached his peak in the following year, with a strong performance at the 1999 French Open in Paris, France. He defeated Justin Gimelstob, Younes El Aynaoui as well as seeds No. 3 Patrick Rafter, from Australia, No. 14 Félix Mantilla, from Spain, and No. 6 Àlex Corretja, also from Spain, only to fall in the semi-finals to Ukrainian Andrei Medvedev. This was his best Grand Slam singles result and led him to a career-high ranking of World No. 25. This year he also crushed Pete Sampras (ATP nº2 at the time) at Rome Masters Series (6–3, 6–1). At the press conference after this match, Sampras declared "he had attended a masterclass on how to play on clay".[5]

He was also a member of the Brazilian Davis Cup team, with an overall record of 13–16.

In addition to his three singles titles, Meligeni also won 7 doubles titles in the ATP Tour, most of them partnering countryman Gustavo Kuerten.

Meligeni retired from professional tennis in 2003, playing his last match against Marcelo Ríos from Chile in the final of the 2003 Pan American Games in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, which he won in three sets.

Two years later, he was nominated captain of the Brazilian Davis Cup team, but resigned in January 2007 due to political differences with the Brazilian Tennis Confederation. During his period as a captain, he collected a 5–1 W/L record in ties. Despite the positive record, his popularity as a captain among the local press and fans wasn't always high, due to the easy opposition faced by the Brazilian team in the Americas Group; the controversial decisions he took when selecting the players to represent the squad, insisting in players that were out of shape, like Flávio Saretta and Gustavo Kuerten, and sidelining the then best-ranked Brazilians in the ATP, Marcos Daniel and Thiago Alves; the lack of receptiveness to criticism; and reported difficulty to control the harmony between the players.

Off the court, Meligeni has also been a host for TV show MTV Sports aired by MTV Brasil in the late 1990s and early 2000s (decade), as well as having guest appearances in radio shows and as a commentator for tennis matches. On 2012, Meligeni became a tennis commentator for ESPN Brazil creating one of the best shows named Pelas Quadras (Throughout the Courts). On 2018 he did not renew his contract, due to disagreements with the TV company.

Career statisticsEdit

Singles performance timelineEdit

(W) Won; (F) finalist; (SF) semifinalist; (QF) quarterfinalist; (#R) rounds 4, 3, 2, 1; (RR) round-robin stage; (Q#) qualification round; (A) absent; (NH) not held. SR=strike rate (events won/competed)
Tournament 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 SR W–L Win (%)
Grand Slam Tournaments
Australian Open A A A 1R A 1R 2R 1R 1R 1R A 1R 1R 0 / 8 1–8 11%
French Open A A 4R 1R 3R 1R 2R 4R SF 2R 3R 2R Q1 0 / 10 18–10 64%
Wimbledon A A A 1R A A A A A 1R 2R 1R A 0 / 4 1–4 20%
US Open A 1R 1R 1R 1R 1R 3R 1R 2R 1R 2R 2R A 0 / 11 5–11 31%
Win–Loss 0–0 0–1 3–2 0–4 2–2 0–3 4–3 3–3 6–3 1–4 4–3 2–4 0–1 0 / 33 25–33 43%

Significant finalsEdit

Olympic GamesEdit

Result Year Tournament Surface Opponent Score
4th Place 1996 Atlanta Olympics Hard   Leander Paes 6–3, 2–6, 4–6

Pan American GamesEdit

Result Year Tournament Surface Opponent Score
Gold 2003 Santo Domingo Games Hard   Marcelo Ríos 5–7, 7–6(8–6), 7–6(7–5)


  1. ^ "Os dez maiores tenistas brasileiros da Era Aberta". Esporte Final (in Portuguese). February 2, 2010. Retrieved May 9, 2017.
  2. ^ ""Fino" Meligeni Olympics results". Sports Reference. Archived from the original on 2011-01-07.
  3. ^ "25 of the Most Surprising Tennis Runs in Olympic History". Bleacher Report.
  4. ^ "Meu Momento Olímpico: Ficou no Quase". Folha UOL (in Portuguese).
  5. ^ "Meligeni vê vitória contra Sampras como o auge da carreira: "Dei aula"". Torcedores.com (in Portuguese). 2015-09-22. Retrieved 2019-09-22.

External linksEdit

Preceded by
Nalbert Bitencourt
Brazilian Sportsmen of the Year
Succeeded by
Vanderlei de Lima