Unseeded Kyrgios, Cuevas, and Querrey Capture ATP Titles
Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
Nick Kyrgios became one of the youngest ATP champions of all-time when he captured the title in Marseille at the age of 20. Kyrgios dominated a tough field and didn’t drop a set, as he concluded his tournament triumph with a 6-2 7-6(3) victory over Marin Cilic.
Kyrgios’s serve and return of serve were both clicking this week as he defeated Vasek Pospisil and Teymuraz Gabashvili 4 and 4, Richard Gasquet 6-0 6-4 and the powerful Tomas Berdych 6-4 6-2. Gasquet was still nursing a back injury, but nobody could stop NK from rising this week. The young Aussie has already demonstrated his ability to win big matches and do well in slams, but his ranking should rapidly improve if he can win more ATP titles and compete on a weekly basis. Kyrgios lost his only previous ATP final last year.
Cilic reached his first ATP final of the season as he slipped past Robin Haase in three sets, Andrey Kuznetsov in straights, and Benoit Paire in a close three setter. Paire upset Stan Wawrinka in the previous round. The former Grand Slam winner is showing signs of improvement, but still hasn’t reached the same level that he was once at and remains outside the top 10.
Mate Pavic and Michael Venus combined to win their third ATP doubles title of the season over Colin Fleming and Jonathan Erlich in a routine doubles final.
Pablo Cuevas won his fourth career ATP title, and his first ever at the 500 level in a tight three setter over surprise first-time ATP finalist Guido Pella 6-4 6-7(5) 6-4. The Rio tournament was plagued by both rain and upsets this week, but the dirtballer Cuevas was a true warrior and had the week of his life in Rio.
Cuevas dominated Facundo Bagnis in his opening match, then fended off a challenge from upstart wild card Thiago Monteiro, and beat Federico Delbonis in straights. He faced Rafael Nadal in the semis and stunned the king of clay in three sets, with two tiebreaks. The match against Nadal was his first ever top 10 win on clay, as Nadal continues to struggle and decline. Nadal wasn’t the only big name to lose in Rio this week, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga was stunned by the ATP débutante Monteiro. The Brazilian has a bright future ahead.
Pella was down match point in round 1 against a cramping John Isner, but won a third set tiebreak to survive and advance. The Argentine built on that big win and beat Santiago Giraldo and Daniel Gimeno-Traver, the latter in three sets, to reach the semis. Dominic Thiem was playing and doubles and singles this week and suffered from exhaustion as he was rolled over by Pella in a semifinal upset.
Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah won the doubles title for the second week in a row on the Golden Swing. The Colombian duo defeated David Marrero and Pablo Carreno Busta.
ATP Delray Beach
Sam Querrey won his eighth career ATP title and his first in four years in Delray Beach. The American has had his best success on home soil and his latest triumph came over countryman Rajeev Ram 6-4 7-6(6). Ram was playing in his third career ATP final, as the journeyman has made surprising success with his serve and volley game.
Querrey, who was coming off the semis in Memphis, has been in great form as he recovered from dropping the first set to Thiemo de Bakker to win in three sets, going on to defeat Austin Krajicek, Tim Smyczek in a tight three sets, and surprise semifinalist Juan Martin Del Potro in a close two sets.
Del Potro lacks a solid backhand, but his trademark forehand was looking sharp in his first ATP comeback tournament. The Argentine successfully won three ATP matches this week, and his fans can hope for more going forward. His serve also seems improved.
The 31 year old Ram took advantage of Bernard Tomic’s tank, and won three setters over Illya Marchenko and Benjamin Becker before shocking Grigor Dimitrov in the semis. Ram didn’t play out of the ordinary, but Dimitrov was reckless and erratic.
Oliver Marach and Fabrice Martin survived being down match point six times to defeat the legendary Bryan brothers for the Delray Beach doubles title.