When I looked at the draws in Dallas & Cordoba, I thought that all-American and all-Argentinian finals were probable. In Texas 15 of 28 players were Americans, in Cordoba 10 of 28 were Argentinians – the two top seeds were local players in both events. In Cordoba indeed – the final was an all-Argentinian affair, but in Dallas the 23-year-old Wu Yibing  spoiled the party. In his last two matches, Wu trailed 6-7, 4:5 (0/30) against the local players, but found his way to victory not showing many emotions. In the almost three-hour final against John Isner , he saved four match points in total; one in the 2nd set, and another three in the deciding tie-break (Isner had the ball in play on each occasion, one of those MPs he should have won with a volley). I was wondering for many years how it was possible that such a huge, rich country like China, having ATP events since 1996, couldn’t produce at least one Top 100 player. Now China has two guys in the Top 100 and Wu’s potential is much bigger than that. His baseline game is impressive, I especially like his cross-court forehand, he’s able to accelerate the ball effortlessly. Last year he became the first Chinese to win a Grand Slam match in the Open Era, now he becomes the first one to claim an ATP title (no Chinese before him even played a semifinal). He’s some sort of a late-bloomer because he couldn’t play tennis for two and a half years (due to elbow, lower back, shoulder and wrist injuries) after successful junior career.
It’s a rarity to claim an ATP title with only three wins, that’s the case of Jannik Sinner  – the Italian had ‘bye’ first, then received a walkover in 2R, another three matches he won quite easily in the southern French city. The France-born US representative, Maxime Cressy  is the only current Top 100 serve-and-volleyer, but his style is unique, actually incomparable with anyone from the past. The almost two-meter-tall player hits 1st and 2nd serves with similar power which oscillates around 180-210 kph. Double digit of double faults in his three-set matches is calculated into his style. Arthur Fils  reached the semifinal in his second ATP appearance. The 18-year-old Frenchman (first player born in 2004 to win an ATP match) defeated two very experienced players, he’s certainly a man to watch. The defending champion Alexander Bublik  has lost nine straight matches. Facing a match point in the deciding 3rd set tie-break, he was so frustrated that devastated three racquets at the change of ends.
Sebastian Baez , the titlist in Cordoba, prior to the event had won just 1 out of his last 18 matches! He’s the second shortest player (170 cm) in the Top 100, his chances outside clay are limited, yet his shorter compatriot Diego Schwartzman (168 cm) found his way to be dangerous on faster surfaces too. The beaten finalist, 30-year-old Federico Coria has just played 2 ATP finals, his ten years older brother Guillermo Coria, had played the first two ATP finals already as a teenager… It’s been 22nd year of the Golden Swing, a series of clay-court events held in Latin America; in 2001 the first mini-tour led through Vina del Mar (Chile), Buenos Aires (Argentina), Costa do Sauipe (Brazil) & Acapulco (Mexico); this year players from Cordoba move to Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) & Santiago (Chile).
In his first years on the tour, Sergi Bruguera  was associated almost entirely with clay-courts, in Milano he reached his first final outside clay; it was a prognostic of things to come, he improved his serve and strengthened ground-strokes, it’d help him to win two major titles soon. In the first round he barely survived, but another three matches won against very good indoor players. He had no chance in the final though, facing the best indoor player at the time. For Boris Becker  it was his third consecutive title indoors (he finished the 1992 season with two titles), in retrospect I know it was the end of his reign on the faster surfaces, nevertheless, he had still three good years ahead.
Very similar prize money in Memphis, but the draw consisted of 48 players as opposed to 32 in Milan. Jim Courier  didn’t belong to the most efficient players when he and his rivals were close to victory, but that week in Tennessee, fresh after clinching his second Aussie Open title, he was a mental giant from the third round onwards. First, in 3R he withstood a match point on serve, then in QF a match point on return (against a big-serving opponent), in the semifinal he was two games away from defeat, and in the final a few points away in two consecutive sets. During the 2-hour 43-minute final against his peer Todd Martin [96, first ATP final], Courier squandered five match points at 5:4*, but stayed composed (a year before he lost a final in Brussels wasting good chances in three sets leading 2-0!). “I think the win against Agassi just made me feel like I could compete at the highest level and win,” Martin said, after his breakthrough tournament. “I’ve come close, but I never won against the best players in the world.” Courier explained that his tormented route to the title was caused by the change of sleep patterns following his comeback to the United States from Australia. In two matches he collected fewer points, and he won as many points as his opponent in the semifinal. The first of three cases in the 90s when the champion was one point away from defeat in two matches.
Montpellier (ATP 250, hard indoors)
(2)🇮🇹Jannik Sinner d. 🇺🇸Maxime Cressy 7-6(3), 6-3
Dallas (ATP 250, hard indoors)
🇨🇳Wu Yibing d. (5)🇺🇸John Isner 6-7(4), 7-6(3), 7-6(12) – 4 m.p.
Cordoba (ATP 250, clay outdoors)
(4)🇦🇷Sebastian Baez d. (6)🇦🇷Federico Coria 6-1, 3-6, 6-3
Milan ($675K, carpet indoors)
(2)🇩🇪Boris Becker d. 🇪🇸Sergi Bruguera 6-3, 6-3
Memphis ($655K, hard indoors)
(1)🇺🇸Jim Courier d. 🇺🇸Todd Martin 5-7, 7-6(4), 7-6(4)
This entry was posted in Tournaments
. Bookmark the permalink