Sock Captures Maiden ATP Title in Houston, Klizan performs best in Casablanca
Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
Jack Sock continued his hot streak since returning to the ATP tour, and won his maiden ATP title in a rain delayed final over Sam Querrey 7-6 7-6. The match began with a sloppy first set that got delayed midway through after a pair of breaks, one for each player. Upon the resumption of the match, Sock and Querrey battled to a tiebreak, and though Querrey was 5-3 up at one point and had three set point chances in the breaker, Sock would be the one to take it 11-9 on his second set point chance.
In set 2 Sock saved a break point in the opening game, and broke back Querrey 3-4 down later on. Sock would have a match point at 5-6 in the second set on Querrey’s serve, but couldn’t convert. However once they got to the tiebreak, Sock was the superior mover, and shotmaker and came up with some quality shots to comfortably take it 7-2. As to be expected, Sock was mentally tougher than Querrey when it mattered, though he posted 11 double faults (Querrey had 6) and generally it was a close match.
On the week, Sock was simply on fire, he got past Joao Souza in 3 sets in the opening round, then beat Roberto Bautista Agut, and Santiago Giraldo, both solid clay court players in straight sets. In the semis he got past Kevin Anderson with a tiebreak and a break of serve. The young American is rising and is playing like a top 20 player right now. This was also his maiden ATP final.
Querrey posted his best result of the season and reached his first ATP final in three seasons with a retirement win over Marinko Matosevic, a 3 set win over Steve Johnson, and then an upset of Feliciano Lopez in straight sets. In the semis he shocked Fernando Verdasco, a favorite to take the title, in 3 sets. As often happens in Houston, the har-tru surface played differently than red clay, and thus produced some surprising results.
Ricardas Berankis and Teymuraz Gabashvili, an alternate pairing, pulled off some huge upsets to win the doubles title over Treat Huey and Scott Lipsky. They beat the Bryan brothers and also Lindstedt/Melzer in earlier rounds.
The 2015 Grand Prix Hassan II, as to be expected given its weak field, produced some surprising results, and that culminated with Martin Klizan winning his third career ATP title over maiden finalist Daniel Gimeno-Traver, a journeyman veteran. Klizan improved to 3-0 in ATP finals with a 6-2 6-2 drubbing of DGT, the 29 year old simply couldn’t handle the powerful game of Klizan, and he didn’t help his own cause by failing to convert all 7 break point chances he had during the match.
Klizan, the 2 seed, had to survive Dustin Brown in a third set tiebreak in his first match, but improved as the week went on, defeating Nicolas Almagro in an upset in the next round in 2 sets, and then Damir Dzumhur in 3 sets, as he clawed back from a set down. Though he fell in the semis, it’s still perhaps the best result of Dzumhur’s career.
DGT beat Malek Jaziri, and then Mikhail Kukushkin, Lamine Ouahab, and 3 seed Jiri Vesely, the latter in a close 3 set battle, as Vesely was aiming to make his second ATP final of the season but came up just short. Ouahab is also a remarkable story, the out of shape veteran, and former world class junior player, upset both Robin Haase and Guillermo Garcia-Lopez (who was the top seed and defending champion), in straight sets, as his wacky, drop shot centric style of play flummoxed his opponents. Ouahab was a clear fan favorite with local fans, the Algerian turned Moroccan is 22-1 on home soil this year, with all of those matches coming on clay.
Rameez Junaid and Adil Shamasdin beat top seeds Rohan Bopanna and Florin Mergea in the doubles final. It’s their first career doubles title together, and overall the second for Shamasdin and the first for Junaid.