NEW YORK: 27-year-old Magda Linette of Poland needed to qualify to get into the inaugural Bronx Open, and won eight matches in nine days to be the last woman standing. 27-year-old Camila Giorgi of Italy had survived two third set tiebreaks this week, and saved four match points in yesterday’s semifinals, but couldn’t close out Linette despite leading for most of today’s final. For the Italian, it’s her second loss in a final within the past four weeks, with both defeats as the expense of first-time WTA champions.
In the first set, a deep backhand return earned Giorgi a break point in the first game, and a Linette groundstroke that soared beyond the baseline gave the Italian the early advantage. But Giorgi would make four consecutive errors in the next game to give the break right back, a sign of how back-and-forth this final would be. After Linette held at love, Giorgi would double fault three times in a row from 30-0 up, and a Linette drop shot winner clinched the break and a 3-1 for Magda. But with the lead, Linette double faulted twice herself, then committed two backhand errors to hand the break right back at love. Both women were obviously quite tight to start on this big occasion.
At 3-3, Linette faced two more break points, yet held with some strong serving and some great defense. They would both hold easily in the next few games until 5-5. In the first point of the eleventh game, a Giorgi ball would clip the net cord and creep over the net for a winner. And Linette would not win another point in the set thereafter, as Giorgi would break at love and then hold at love to win the set.
The net cord would also prove crucial to start the second set, but this bounce would go Linette’s way, giving her the early 2-0 lead. She’d maintain the lead until 4-2, when Giorgi struck three huge forehand winners to break at love. Linette allowed a break point to slip by in the next game with some unforced errors, and Giorgi held to even the set at 4-4. And the ninth game of the set would be an extended affair. Two Magda double faults granted Camila another break point, which Linette saved. As the game went on for many deuces, Magda saved a second one with an ace, and a third with an unreturned serve. On a fourth break point, Giorgi pinned Linette in the corner with a great return, but didn’t put away her shot at the net, enabling Magda to hit a cross court pass. Linette finally took the next two points and held for 5-4. Magda earned two set points in the next game, but misfired when it mattered, making it 5-5. After a Linette hold, a Giorgi double fault gifted Magda two more set points. And Linette would only need one, leveling the match with a cross court forehand winner.
In the first game of the decider, a Linette double fault on break point gave Giorgi the immediate advantage. Serving at 1-3, Magda survived another long, grueling service game, saving multiple break points to keep herself within striking distance. When Giorgi served at 4-3, Linette earned three break points, and she’d convert on the third when a Camila forehand just barely missed the baseline. Magda then held at love to claim her first lead of the set at 5-4. In the next game, Linette earned a match point with a forehand winner down the line. And with a Giorgi error into the net, Linette captured her first WTA title.
Following the match, Magda spoke to me regarding the long, pivotal service games that she pulled out in both the second and third sets. She explained how she focused on getting her first serve in as to not allow Giorgi to pounce on her second serve. And when speaking to me about how she persevered in those pressure moments, Magda credited her extensive match play over the last nine days. “The seven matches before gave me the confidence,” Magda stated. She’d go on to tell me, “I was not nervous, I guess that was the plus of all the matches that I played before, that’s when it showed up.”
There was a sizeable Polish contingent which showed up in the Bronx today to cheer on Linette, becoming more vocal as the match progressed. She would spend considerable time thanking them and celebrating with them after the match. When asked about how much their support meant to her, Magda said, “I’m really thankful to them that they came and supported me. And it’s great because we don’t have a tournament in Poland, we are not really used to having a home crowd. So it’s great that they always come for the big tournaments, and I’m so happy that they came to watch my final”
Jannik Sinner reaches the quarter final at the ATP Challenger in Ortisei
Just five days after winning the ATP Next Gen title in Milan Italian 18-year-old rising star Jannik Sinner returned to the court to play at the Sparkasse Challenger in Ortisei in Val Gardena, less than two hours from his hometown of San Candido in the Italian region of Sudtyol.
Sinner started his tournament in Ortisei with a 7-6 (7-5) 7-5 win over Lucas Miedler and continued his campaign with a 6-3 6-4 win over his compatriot Roberto Marcora in a sold-out night session to qualify for the quarter finals.
Sinner broke Marcora in the fourth game to take a 3-1 lead and held on his next service games to close out the first set 6-3 with an ace after rallying from 0-30 down in the ninth game. Sinner broke serve in the seventh game to take a 4-3 lead in the second set and never looked back in his next service games to seal the win. Sinner will face Federico Gaio, who beat world number 172 Danilo Petrovic 6-4 6-4.
Sinner became the youngest winner ever in the ATP Challenger circuit last February in Bergamo. He won his second Challenger title in Lexington last summer. He has improved his ranking by 600 points to a career-high of number 96 in the ATP Ranking.
Italian wild card Lorenzo Musetti swept aside Bernabé Zapata Miralles 6-4 6-0 setting up a quarter final match against Austria’s Sebastian Ofner, who beat his compatriot Dennis Novak in the tie-break of the third set 3-6 6-3 7-6 (8-6).
Ivan Dodig and Filip Polasek end the season with a win over Rain Klaasen and Michael Venus
Ivan Dodig and Filip Polasek beat Jonas Bjorkman Group winners Raven Klaasen and Michael Venus 7-6 (7-4) 6-4 in the doubles tournament at the ATP Finals in London ending their season with a win.
Klaasen and Venus got the first break of the match in the fifth game, but they were broken back in the eighth game, as they failed to serve out for the first set.
Dodig and Polasek earned a chance to close out the first set in the 10th game. Klaasen and Venus fended off two set points to force a tie-break. Klaasen and Venus took a 4-3 lead, but Dodig and Polasek reeled off four points to seal the tie-break 7-4.
Dodig and Polasek earned an early break at the start of the second set and held on their serve to claim the win.
“I think we had amazing season. We played 11 tournaments together and now we are here in London. To close the season with a win here is a great feeling. We are looking forward to next year”,said Dodig.
“It’s awesome to win here. The atmosphere throughout the week has been great. It’s been an unbelievable journey. I am really happy we can finish the season with a win here. There is no better feeling”, said Polasek.
Matteo Berrettini Scores Historic Win Before Exit From ATP Finals
The 23-year-old ends his breakthrough season on the ATP Tour with another milestone in his career.
LONDON: Matteo Berrettini has become the first Italian man in history to win a match at the ATP Finals after defeating Dominic Thiem on Thursday afternoon.
The world No.8 managed to dismantle the game of his rival, who was far from his best at times, with the help of his blistering serve to seal the 7-6(3), 6-3, victory. Ending Thiem’s streak of four consecutive wins over top 10 players, including Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer earlier this week. In total Berrettini hit 30 winners to 21 unforced errors and converted both of his break point opportunities.
“I’ve always had great fights against him. I was able to stay mentally focused, especially in the first set when I lost my serve because I didn’t play a great game.” Berrettini said afterward.
“I’m really happy with my performance because I am not feeling great physically.” He added.
The downside to the round-robin format of the event is that some matches end up being irrelevant with this being one of them. Regardless of the outcome, Thiem has already qualified for the semi-finals and Berrettini is on his way out. Nevertheless, the 23-year-old Italian was playing for pride at The O2 Arena.
A close start to the match saw neither playing managing to gain any momentum during the first eight games. Then inconsistencies in Thiem’s game started to haunt him. Berrettini’s ability to hit the ball deep into the court forced his rival to make a series of errors as he broke for a 5-4 lead. However, it was his turn to stumble behind his serve as Thiem broke back to level with relative ease.
Despite neither player capitalizing on their advantages, the tiebreaker was a one-sided encounter. Three Thiem unforced errors, as well as a winning Berrettini slice, saw him go behind 0-4 in the blink of an eye. Creating enough of a margin for Berrettini to seal the first set with the help of a 134 mph ace.
Thiem clearly looked flat on the court compared to two days ago when he downed Djokovic, however, nothing should be taken away from Berrettini. Who kept focus and stuck to his game plan throughout the match. A backhand passing shot, followed by a crosscourt winner enabled him to break once again midway through the second set. Easing towards victory after just 76 minutes play, Berrettini closed the match out with a delicate drop shot.
“I’m really proud of myself, but also for my team, my family and my friends. It’s been an unbelievable season.” He reflected on his year.
“I didn’t expect at the beginning of the season to be here (in London). I hope to come back next year, but now I just want to say thanks to those guys (his team). Without them, it couldn’t be possible.”
“I’m happy to finish with a win.“
Despite the loss, Thiem will finish at the top of the Bjorg Born Group. He will play the runner-up of the other group in the semi-finals on Saturday.
Whilst Berrettini’s ATP season is over, he can’t rest yet. Next week he will be in Madrid playing for his country in the Davis Cup along with many other of his fellow players.
“There is one more event. I have to rest a little bit and then I think I deserve a holiday.” He declared.
Berrettini ends 2019 with 43 wins on the ATP Tour in what is a career best. He started the year ranked 54th in the world and didn’t make his top 10 debut until last month.
Italian men in the ATP Finals
-C. Barazzutti in 1978 – 0 wins and 3 loses
-A. Panatta in 1975 – 0 wins and 3 losses
-M. Barrettini in 2019 – 1 win and 2 losses
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