Ferrer, Berdych, and Cilic Stave Off Upset Bids to Capture ATP Fall Indoor Titles
Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
David Ferrer moved closer to clinching one of the final World Tour Finals slots with his 5th title of the season in Vienna. The Spanish veteran did one better than his final in the Austrian capital last year and slipped past maiden ATP finalist Steve Johnson 4-6 6-4 7-5 to take the title. The American Johnson played hard and continues his career best season but Ferrer survived in the clutch.
The final was the toughest match for Ferrer since a three set victory over countryman Albert Ramos in round 1, and from there he went on to Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, Fabio Fognini, and Gael Monfils in routine straight set affairs. Ferrer has now captured three ATP 500 level titles this season.
Johnson found form after escaping his first two matches with three set victories over Alex Dolgopolov and Jerzy Janowicz. In the quarterfinals he upset Kevin Anderson in three sets, and Ernests Gulbis in straight sets, as Gulbis was denied a spot in his first ATP final of the season. Stevie J, a former NCAA standout, continues to improve and has now cemented himself as a solid player on the ATP tour, having matured his game beyond simply a powerful forehand.
Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo beat Jamie Murray/John Peers to win the doubles final in a battle of doubles specialists.
Americans fell to 0-2 in ATP finals this weekend when Tomas Berdych demolished Jack Sock 7-6 6-2 for his third career ATP Stockholm title. The in-form Berdych has now equaled his number of trophies from last year with a late run of form this Fall. He won Shenzen, and now has Stockholm to go with it.
The powerful Czech didn’t drop a set in all four of his matches this week and faced few challenges against Alex Zverev, Grigor Dimitrov, and an injured Marcos Baghdatis en route to the final. Sock needed three sets against both Pablo Carreno Busta and Fernando Verdasco, but like his buddy Johnson in Vienna, he got hot in the quarterfinals and semifinals and upset Gilles Simon and Richard Gasquet to reach the final. The 23 year old American is in the midst of a career year and now has two ATP finals (with 1 title) on his resume.
Sock did one better in doubles, teaming with Nick Monroe to take the title over Mate Pavic/Michael Venus. Sock has three ATP doubles titles this season.
In one more note, Finland’s best ever tennis player Jarkko Nieminen finished up his ATP career with a hard fought third set defeat in Stockholm.
Top seed Marin Cilic won his first title of the season as he repeated as champion in Moscow 6-4 6-4 in an hour and a half over Roberto Bautista Agut. The title will aid Cilic as he seeks to return to the top 10, and make sure he finishes in the top 15 by the end of the year.
The Croatian was only troubled by Denis Istomin in his first match, prevailing in three sets, and he beat Russian hopes Andrey Kuznetsov and surprise semifinalist Evgeny Donskoy to reach the final. Bautista Agut found form and beat Marsel Ilhan, Lucas Pouille, and Philipp Kohlschreiber over the same span without dropping a set. This final is his best result of the season after multiple ATP semifinal appearances.
The wild card pairing of young gun Andrey Rublev and Russian veteran Dmitry Tursunov took home the doubles title over Radu Albot/Frantisek Cermak. The 32 year old Tursunov has been out with injuries for a year and his run in doubles comes as a shock given the rust factor.