As the top seed in Newport, RI, John Isner sailed through the draw, using his big serve to claim his third title at the International Tennis Hall of Fame. In the final, Isner took on qualifier from Australia Matthew Ebden. Ebden was looking for his first ATP tour level title, as well as his first win over the American. Despite having some great wins this week, Ebden could not penetrate Isner’s serve. With 17 aces and zero break point opportunities, Isner controlled the match from beginning to end. Although he only broke Ebden once, Isner closed out the match in straight sets, winning 6-3, 7-6(7-4). Ebden is a talented player, and I would not be surprised if he is able to qualify for the U.S. Open this year. Isner’s return game could still use a bit of fine tuning, but this should give him the confidence he needs for the U.S. Open hardcourt series. Yesterday, top seeds Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi and Rajeev Ram won the doubles title with a 6-4, 4-6, 10-7 win over Matt Reid and John-Patrick Smith of Australia.
Isner was not the only one to claim his third title at a tournament. In Bastad, SWE, eighth seed David Ferrer won his third title on the Swedish red clay courts with a 6-4, 6-4 win over Alexandr Dolgopolov. With a 9-4 record against the Ukrainian, Ferrer needed only an hour and a half to seal the deal. What’s interesting to note is that Dolgopolov had a higher winning percentage on his second serve points than his first serve points. However, it really comes down to how you play on the important points, and Ferrer did just that, breaking Dolgopolov 3 out of 8 times. Ferrer won 70% of first serve points and a solid 59% of second serve points. This and the tournament in Newport just go to show you that no matter how you play throughout the year, when you come to a stop that you have a lot of success at, it can really turn your confidence around. Julian Knowle and Philipp Petzschner won the doubles title, beating Sander Arends and Matwe Middelkoop 6-2, 3-6, 10-7.
After entering the draw as a lucky loser, #NextGenATP player Andrey Rublev showed why he is one of many talented, young players that will take over after the Big Four retire. Battling his way through the draw, Rublev faced fourth seed Paolo Lorenzi in the final. With inexperience and more energy drained from two extra matches from qualifying, you would think Rublev would be happy just finishing runner-up. Not so. Needing just an hour and 15 mins., Rublev played like the veteran and more energized player, winning the match 6-4, 6-2. With a big serve and consistent groundstrokes, Rublev really took control of this match. Lorenzi’s spin shots could not really hurt Rublev and really dropped right in the striking zone of the young Russian. It really came down to who could play well on their own serve. Rublev won 77% of first serve points and 52% of second serve points. Rublev was ferocious on second serve return points, winning 63%, not giving Lorezni time to set up for his shot. Rublev joins a select group of lucky losers that have gone on to win the title, in fact, the first lucky loser since 2009, when Ram won the title in Newport. The doubles final was played yesterday, with No.3 seeds Guillermo Duran and Andres Molteni taking out the wildcard team of Marin and Tomislav Draganja 6-3, 6-7(4-7), 10-6.
In the Romanian capital of Bucharest, home favorite Irina Begu came away with double glory. In the singles final, Begu was able to get the better of third seed Julia Goerges, winning 6-3, 7-5. Goerges’ big serve and groundstrokes were not on point as they had been all week, giving Begu the chance to take control of the match, but the match was still competitive despite Goerges’ A game not being there. Both players had high first serve points won percentages, but the difference came in Begu’s 86% on second serve points won to Goerges’ 36%. Begu was also able to save 3 out of 4 break point opportunities, while Goerges could only save 2 out of 6. Begu also takes the lead in their head-to-head record 2-1, and brings her tally of WTA titles up to four. The day was not done for Begu though, as she and her partner Raluca Olaru played the doubles final as well. Playing the No.2 seeds Elise Mertens and Demi Schuurs, Begu and Olaru won the match in straight sets 6-3, 6-3.
Begu was not the only player to win double hardware this week. Over in Gstaad, SUI, second seed Kiki Bertens also collected both the singles and doubles titles. Playing against one of the most improved young talents this year Anett Kontaveit in the final, Bertens really had to battle for her third career title. Throwing down six aces and breaking five times, Bertens really ran away with the match in the third set. Up until then, both players were equally matched with a few breaks here and there to give them the edge in the two other sets. Bertens found another gear in the third, and Kontaveit may have been hampered with an injury (she already pulled out of Bastad next week). Ultimately, Bertens won 6-4, 3-6, 6-1; she also ties their head-to-head at 1-1 now. However, Bertens also had to fight for the doubles title as well. Partnering with Johanna Larsson this week, Bertens showed tremendous effort to stick it out in the doubles. Playing the No.3 seeds Viktorija Golubic and Nina Stojanovic, the top seeds won 7-6(7-4), 4-6, 10-7 to claim their seventh doubles title together.
Next week, the men travel to Hamburg, GER, Gstaad, SUI and Atlanta, GA, while the women head to Bastad, SWE and Nanchang, CHN. Hope you’re enjoying these posts. Stay cool this week, and I will see you back here tomorrow!