By Niall Clarke
- Round up of the week’s ATP action
- Klizan claims first ATP 500 title in Rotterdam
- Thiem and Nishikori wins ATP 250 titles in Buenos Aires and Memphis
Martin Klizan claimed his first ATP 500 title in Rotterdam whilst Kei Nishikori and Dominic Thiem claimed AP 250 titles in Memphis and Buenos Aires.
Klizan comes back from the brink to win Rotterdam
The man known during the week as the Slovakian escape artist came from behind again to defeat Gael Monfils and claim his first ATP 500 title in Rotterdam.
The 26 year old who had saved five match points in the quarter finals and three match points in the semi finals came from a set down to defeat the Frenchman (1)6-7, 6-3, 6-1.
Klizan fittingly walked onto court in a Captain America shirt, with his heroics and antics undoubtedly being the highlight of the week.
A tight first set that saw break point opportunities for both went all the way to a tiebreak where the Frenchman took control, coming through the breaker 7-1.
An emotional Klizan was on the brink of almost certain defeat early in the second set as he faced 15-40 on serve. But never one to hold back, the Slovak pulled through the game with more bold play. It would prove to be a momentum shifter as Klizan would earn the first break of the match at 4-3 before levelling the match at one set all.
Inspired and full of confidence, Klizan went on a tear in the final set with his signature booming forehand capping off a fantastic performance and a magnificent week for the Slovak.
“I cannot believe that it happened,” said Klizan.
“It was my dream to be on the board with these unbelievably great players. It’s an amazing feeling. Every day I was just fighting. Most of the time I had three-hour matches every day, so the only thing I could do was fight. In the end I saved so many match points. I still cannot believe it.
“In tennis you play best-of-three or best-of-five, so there is always the chance to win the match. So I just tried to fight until the last point and it was a good option.
“This is the best result in my career so far. I’m very, very proud of it. Also in our country, maybe I can be a motivation for the young players. I’m very happy for that.”
Klizan is now 4-0 in ATP finals and has added to the trophies he lifted at the ATP World Tour 250 tournaments in St. Petersburg 2012, Munich 2014 and Casablanca 2015.
Monfils on the other-hand continues his woes in finals as he moves to a 5-18 in title deciders with his last victory coming tow years a go in Montpellier.
Nishikori four-peats in Memphis
Memphis continues to be a happy hunting ground for Japanese star Nishikori as he ended the run of Taylor Fritz to claim his fourth straight Memphis title.
The 18 year old American had made headlines during the week with a great run to the final and started this match on fire, winning 12 of the first 14 points. However the class of the top seed began to shone through and Nishikori overturned the first set deficit to defeat the youngster 6-4, 6-4.
“It’s amazing to win four in a row,” said Nishikori.
“I tried not to think about it too much this week. I didn’t feel a lot of pressure. It was a tough start again today, but I managed it better. I played better tennis as the match went on and I’m happier with the second set. I only gave him a few points on my serve in the last few games.
“We practised five or six times the past few years in California, so I know how he plays. I never beat him before, so I was happy to beat him in a match. I tried different tactics to make him move more. He has very good reach so it’s not easy to hit winners, especially on these slow courts. I had to finish the points strong with my legs. He was tough to play.
“I felt a lot of support even here in the US against an American. A lot of Japanese came out today.”
Nishikori joins an elite club as only the fourth active player to win a tournament four times in a row. The other three are Roger Federer (Halle, Wimbledon, US Open), Rafael Nadal ( Monte-Carlo, Barcelona, Roland Garros) and Novak Djokovic (ATP World Tour Finals, Beijing).
This was Nishikori’s 11th ATP title and his first since the summer of 2015 where he won the Citi Open in Washington. Fritz on the other hand will rise into the top 100 in the ATP world rankings after becoming the first American teenager since Andy Roddick to reach an ATP final.
Thiem edges Almagro for Argentina Open
The rise of Thiem continued as the 22 year old out-clutched Nicolas Almagro to claim the Argentina Open in Buenos Aires.
The Austrian was down a break in the decider but rallied back to take the final set tiebreak and thus the match 7-6(2), 3-6, 7-6(4) in two hours and 28 minutes.
“It’s the best of my titles so far because the tournament draw was so strong,” Thiem said.
“You need a bit of luck to win these kinds of tournaments, but it’s probably been the best week of my career.
“You have to be aggressive against these great players. If you let them dictate, you’ll always be second best.”
Like Klizan, Thiem had to pull a great escape on the way to the final after saving match points in an upset victory over Nadal in the semi finals. But the world number 19 came back to win a third set tiebreaker, just like in the final against Almagro.
The Spaniard’s run to the final was another feel-good story. After struggling in recent years with injuries, Almagro came close to registering his first title in almost four years but found Thiem too solid on the day. The former world number nine had upset David Ferrer in the semi finals, claiming his first victory over his compatriot in the 16th attempt.
The ATP World Tour moves on to Marseille, Delray Beach and Rio this week.
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