Thiem, Cuevas Continue Early Season Success, Wawrinka Takes Dubai
Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
Dominic Thiem continued his MEGA season with his second ATP title this month in Acapulco. The 500 level tournament is his biggest career result thus far and the 22 year old Austrian is making a push for the top 10. Thiem scored a comeback win in the final 7-6(6) 4-6 6-3 over Bernard Tomic after Tomic was up 4-1 and 5-2 in the first set. Tomic had a good tournament and showed his own flashes of greatness but the 23 year old Aussie could maintain a consistent high level compared to Thiem’s newly aggressive tennis this year.
Thiem is 18-4 on the season with room to grow as he has two titles, and two semifinals already this year. He beat Damir Dzumhur, Grigor Dimitrov, and Sam Querrey in resounding fashion without dropping a set, and also came back from a set down against Dmitry Tursunov in his second match. The former top 15 player Dimitrov was plainly outclassed by Thiem who is two years his junior.
Tomic moved to 12-6 on the season and posted his best result after a post Australian slump. He got revenge against Rajeev Ram for a loss earlier this month, and then beat Adrian Mannarino, Illya Marchenko and Alexandr Dolgopolov to reach the final. Dolgo was on fire in the opening set, and had his chances in sets 2 and 3, but somehow Tomic dealt with his shotmaking to advance. Dolgopolov upset David Ferrer early in the tournament, and the other favorite Kei Nishikori lost to Querrey.
Veteran Max Mirnyi teamed up with Treat Huey to defeat Alexander Peya and Philipp Petzschner in the doubles final. Mirnyi needs a couple more wins to make it 700 in his doubles career.
The 500 level stop in Dubai saw world #4 Stan Wawrinka capture his second ATP title of the season. Wawrinka had a surprisingly easy path to the title after world #1 Novak Djokovic withdrew with an eye infection. Against unseeded veteran Marcos Baghdatis, he dazzled with his backhand in a great display of offense against offense from the baseline for a 6-4 7-6(13) victory.
Wawrinka had to fight back from a set and a break down, and work through a tough third set to beat serve and volleyer Sergiy Stakhovsky for the second week in a row, he was looking shaky early on, but wins over Franko Skugor and Philipp Kohlschreiber gave him momentum. Nick Kyrgios met him in the semifinals, as he had another good week on tour, but a back injury forced him to retire in set 2.
The Cypriot Baghdatis reached his first tour final since Atlanta last year, and he did so with surprising wins over Viktor Troicki, Vasek Pospisil, Roberto Bautista Agut, and Feliciano Lopez, dropping just the first set to Lopez en route. Troicki and RBA had been in good form as of late, but both looked exhausted in sloppy second sets against the 30 year old.
Italians Simone Bolelli and Andreas Seppi won 14-12 in a third set super tiebreak against the Spanish Lopez brothers Feliciano and Marc to capture the doubles title. Lopez still had a great week overall with a semifinal in singles and a final in doubles after a slow start to 2016.
ATP Sao Paulo
Pablo Cuevas defended his Sao Paulo title and won his second tournament in a row to move to 12-3 on the season, and cement his status as one of the best clay courters on tour. Cuevas is 10-1 on clay this year and dominated the Golden Swing with a quarterfinal in Buenos Aires, and titles in Rio and Sao Paulo.
His Sao Paulo triumph came with little signs of fatigue in a 7-6(4) 6-3 victory over Pablo Carreno Busta. He also beat Facundo Bagnis, the young upstart Thiago Monteiro, and Dusan Lajovic this week, dropping just a set to a promising Monteiro in some rather quick matches. Monteiro is 3-2 on tour this year after making his ATP main draw debut in Rio.
Carreno Busta was bageled in his opening set of the tournament against Albert Ramos but survived a third set tiebreak, and then went on to beat Daniel Gimeno-Traver in three sets, Roberto Carballes Baena, and Inigo Cervantes, in quarter and semifinal blowouts. It was the first ever ATP final for Carreno Busta, but victory was not to be had as Cuevas proved too strong. Pablo should be a threat on European clay in the spring as well.
Julio Peralta and Horacio Zeballos won the doubles title over Carreno Busta/David Marrero.