Harrison wins First ATP Title in Memphis, Dolgopolov Breaks Slump with Buenos Aires Triumph
Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga won his biggest tour title since the 2014 Canadian Masters with a 4-6 6-4 6-1 victory against David Goffin in the final of Rotterdam. The Frenchman moved well and played attacking tennis after early struggles against Goffin. Besides the final, he didn’t drop a set all week as he beat young gun Stefanos Tsitispas, Gilles Muller, Marin Cilic, and Tomas Berdych, three big hitters in a row to reach the final. Tsonga was much more agile than his opponents, and also more aggressive when it counted this week.
Goffin did not have an easy week, but remarkably made his second straight ATP final with wins over Andrey Kuznetsov, Robin Haase, Grigor Dimitrov, and Pierre-Hugues Herbert. Haase and Dimitrov both took a set against him, the win over Dimitrov was impressive given that the tired Bulgarian had defeated him in the Sofia final just a few days prior. Herbert, normally at his best in doubles, surprisingly reached the semfinals, emerging from a strong field to once again demonstrate he has plenty of talent for singles, but hasn’t always put it together.
Ivan Dodig and Marcel Granollers defeated Wesley Koolhof and Matwe Middelkoop in the doubles final, preventing the home fans from enjoying the Dutch pairing winning the doubles title at home in Holland.
It’s been a long road for the former ATP young gun Ryan Harrison. After years in the challenger wilderness, he has broken through once again at the ATP level, and he did so in a memorable way, defeating Nikoloz Basilashvili for his first ever ATP title 6-1 6-4. Harrison has improved his control of his emotions, is playing more aggressively, much more tactically, and mashing his forehand well. It showed against Basilashvili, and all week in Memphis.
Harrison hasn’t dropped a set in 10 matches, he entered Memphis with a challenger title under his belt, and quickly blazed past Konstantin Kravchuk, Sam Querrey, Damir Dzumhur, and Donald Young to reach the final, having improved his game even from a solid 2016, and added new quirks since emerging on tour years ago as a teenager.
Georgia’s #1 Basilashvili has now made two career ATP finals, he also didn’t drop a set on Memphis slow hard courts. He’s now 7-2 in his last two tournaments after wins against Jordan Thompson, Ivo Karlovic, Matt Ebden, and Mikhail Kukushkin. This week in Memphis we were treated to great performances by a pair of rising players.
Brian Baker and Nikola Mektic prevented Harrison from pulling off a brace, as the American/Croatian pair defeated Harrison and fellow Yank Steve Johnson in the doubles final.
ATP Buenos Aires
A loser of five straight finals heading into his match against Alexandr Dolgopolov, Kei Nishikori presumed he’d end the day as an ATP champion for the first time in a year. The human highlight reel Dolgopolov came to play though, his shotmaking pressured a passive Nishikori, and ended in an upset 7-6 6-4 victory for Ukraine’s #1. Nishikori played not to lose against a player ranked outside of the top 50, and in the process dropped his sixth straight ATP final. Dolgopolov had won just one match in months, but now leaves Argentina in great form that could allow him to return being a regular ATP top 30 player.
Dolgopolov played his best tennis in at least a year and now has three ATP titles in his career. Dolgo defeated Janko Tipsarevic, Pablo Cuevas, Gerald Melzer, and Pablo Carreno Busta without dropping a set. His results were extra impressive given he usually prefers fast surfaces over clay given he’s a flat hitter. Nishikori dropped sets against Diego Schwartzman and Carlos Berlocq, with a routine win over Joao Sousa inbetween, he did make the final, but he never seemed that comfortable on court in Buenos Aires.
Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah beat Santiago Gonzalez/David Marrero to win the doubles final.