Dimitrov Completes Memorable Run in Sofia, Estrella wins third straight Quito Title
Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
Grigor Dimitrov is now 14-1 in 2017, and after two ATP titles already this season, he’s on the cusp of a top 10 ranking. The Bulgarian #1 had a memorable run in Sofia, playing in his nation’s only ATP tournament for the first time. With home fans united behind him, Dimitrov continued his aggressive ball striking and in-form serving en route to a 7-5 6-4 victory over an overwhelmed David Goffin in the final. The title is number six in Dimitrov’s still young career, and by far the most special for him. Having found his focus, the Bulgarian looks sure to do damage on bigger stages in the weeks to come, such as the two ATP spring Masters tournaments in North America.
Dimitrov got off to a shaky start against Jerzy Janowicz and was in danger of making an early exit, but he won that match in three sets, and proceeded to buzzsaw past Viktor Troicki and surprise semifinalist Nikolosz Basilashvili, a rising Georgian player who lost every game of the first set, and a couple of games into the second set before winning his quarterfinal match over Martin Klizan in three sets .
Goffin dropped sets against Radu Albot and Roberto Bautista Agut, with a straight set win against countryman Steve Darcis inbetween them, however he showed some great tenacity this week and is also flirting with a top 10 ranking. Should the Belgian continue to win the matches he’s supposed to win, he’ll be in the top 10 again.
Serbians Viktor Troicki and Nenad Zimonjic beat Mikhail Elgin and Andrey Kuznetsov in the doubles final.
Victor Estrella hails from the Dominican Republic, but when he’s found a second home in Quito, Ecuador, where he has taken all three of his career ATP titles, and won all three editions of the Ecuador Open. His third triumph at altitude came in a nip and tuck final against fellow veteran Paolo Lorenzi, that he finally won in a third set tiebreak 6-7 7-5 7-6, saving a match point in that tiebreak. Lorenzi had his chances at a second career tour level title at age 35, but the Italian faltered from a set and a break ahead. Estrella saw a chance to get back into the match, and took it, looking fit and fresh even after three close sets at 36 years old.
Estrella’s other difficult match in Quito came against Ivo Karlovic, as he won two out of three tiebreaks to prevail. He got off to a slow start in the tournament, dropping a set to Andrej Martin, but after getting past Martin and Karlovic, he slipped past Federico Gaio and big hitter Thomaz Bellucci, defeating Bellucci in two tiebreaks. Lorenzi looked more solid all week until midway into the second set of the final. The Italian challenger legend scored ATP wins over Matt Ebden, Rajeev Ram, and Albert Ramos without dropping a set.
James Cerretani and Philipp Oswald beat Julio Peralta and Horacio Zeballos by virtue of a retirement in the second set to take the doubles title.
Coming off a disappointing result in Davis Cup, not much was expected from the young Alexander Zverev, but the German triumphed against a host of accomplished ATP veterans to claim his second career ATP title at the age of 19. Zverev had to battle all week in Montpellier, as his only straight set victory came in the final against veteran Richard Gasquet 7-6 6-3. Zverev dropped sets against Aljaz Bedene, Jeremy Chardy, and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga before winning the third set in all of those matches to reach the final.
Gasquet played well in wins against Malek Jaziri and Benoit Paire, Kenny De Schepper tested him in between those matches, but in the end the Frenchman with the magical backhand reached yet another ATP final in his accomplished career. After a run to the final on home soil, Gasquet looks set to return to the top 20 soon.
The Zverev brothers claimed double joy in Montpellier, taking home the doubles title over France’s Fabrice Martin and Daniel Nestor. Along with it being rare to claim an ATP singles and doubles title on the same day, the Zverev brothers are the first brother pairing in a while to take a doubles title, besides the Bryan twins.