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Tennis Roundup: Emotional Djere wins Rio Open for first ATP title

February 25, 2019 08:48 IST

 

 Laslo Djere

IMAGE: Serbia's Laslo Djere celebrates winning the Rio Open with the trophy. Photograph: Sergio Morae/Reuters

Laslo Djere won his first ATP title at the Rio Open on Sunday and then captured the hearts of the Brazilian crowd with a victory speech dedicated to his parents, both of whom died from cancer.

The unseeded Serbian beat Canadian teenager Felix Auger-Aliassime 6-3, 7-5 in the final to cap the best week of his career before choking back the tears as he dedicated the trophy to his parents.

 

"I lost my mom seven years ago so I want to dedicate this one to her," he said to wild applause from the crowd.

"And also to my dad, I lost him two months ago. My parents had the biggest impact on me and, because of them, I am who I am today. I hope they are watching me now."

The 23-year-old, ranked number 90 in the world coming into this tournament, broke twice in the decisive second set to beat Auger-Aliassime, who was the youngest man to reach an ATP 500 final.

The plucky 18-year-old Canadian saved four match points before succumbing to the unseeded right-hander, who had not won a match on clay all season and had never beaten a top 10 rival until he arrived in Rio.

He hammered world number eight Dominic Thiem in the first round, however, and did not lose a set on his way to clinching the title in impressive style.

Djere broke Auger-Aliassime six times in the two-hour final and was commanding with both his powerful forehands and two-handed backhands.

"It’s been the week of my dreams," Djere added. "So many things have been achieved here. I’m really happy, excited and emotional now."

Auger-Aliassime became just the fourth teenager to reach the final of an ATP 500 event -- the 13 tournaments which rank just below the Masters series -- since the level was created in 2009.

Albot beats Evans to become first Moldovan to win ATP title

Radu Albot saved three championship points to beat Dan Evans 3-6, 6-3, 7-6(7) in the Delray Beach Open final in Florida and become the first player from Moldova to win an ATP title.

In a high-quality match that stretched for nearly three hours, Albot displayed nerves of steel in the dramatic final tiebreak, staving off defeat with a series of clutch shots.

British qualifier Evans missed his match-point opportunities by the barest of margins and then, with Albot on his first match point, double-faulted to hand the Moldovan the title.

The crowd was quiet for a few second before the ball was confirmed wide and Albot started to celebrate.

"It feels unbelievable," said 29-year-old Albot. "You work your whole life, your whole career, and at the end you win a tournament.

"It was not in the plan losing the first set and then coming back but it worked out pretty good.

"If you want to win the match you need to win two sets. I still had chances, I got chances and I used them."

ATP records show Albot is only the second player from Moldova to crack the top 200 in the rankings. The first was Roman Borvanov, who reached a career-high No. 200 and supported Albot in the crowd all week.

Albot, currently ranked 82nd, is projected to rise to around 50th when the rankings are updated on Monday.

Evans had been seeking his first career title, 10 months after returning from a year-long cocaine suspension.

Top seed Tsitsipas overcomes Kukushkin challenge to win Marseille Open

Top seed Stefanos Tsitsipas clinched his second ATP Tour singles title with a 7-5, 7-6(5) victory over Kazakhstan's Mikhail Kukushkin at the Marseille Open on Sunday.

Tsitsipas, who reached the Australian Open semi-finals last month, battled hard to clinch victory over the 31-year-old Kukushkin in a little under two hours.

The 20-year-old, who did not drop a set in the entire tournament, fired 14 aces and won 86 percent of his first-serve points.

"Winning titles is the thing that I am working for. It's the biggest satisfaction and the biggest joy in tennis," Tsitsipas said, as quoted by the ATP Tour website.

"There was a lot of stress this week because I knew I had to face some good opponents. I'm happy that I got through that stress and played the game that I was supposed to play.

"I lost the spark (after the Australian Open) and I was frustrated because it felt like I couldn't find it again. This week, I can say I am really happy because I felt this hunger back again."

Break points were in short supply in the opening set with neither player wilting under the pressure as they held serve. However, Tsitsipas drew first blood when he broke Kukushkin at 6-5 to take the first set.

Tsitsipas was seeing the ball very well on Kukushkin's serve and returns, hitting some juicy forehand and backhand winners straight down the line.

Kukushkin broke Tsitsipas for the first time in the second set and had the chance to break him again to go 5-2 up but the Greek number one saved two break points to mount an epic comeback.

Changing strategies in the second set, Tsitsipas attempted a serve-and-volley game and came up to the net often in a bid to upset Kukushkin's rhythm.

Tsitsipas then won three games in a row to race to a 6-5 lead and was one game away from winning the title before Kukushkin enforced a tiebreak.

The tiebreak went with serve until Tsitsipas broke Kukushkin at the 11th point to set up the win on serve and take home the title, his second after he won the Stockholm Open in October last year.

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