Is it the official claycourt season? No.
But the shizznat gets official when players are taking out the former King of Clay, Rafael Nadal.
Pablo Cuevas won his first ATP 500-level title early Monday morning due to rain delays, beating Guido Pella 6-4, 6-7(5), 6-4 in the final of the Rio Open. In the semifinals Cuevas put down Nadal.
“I’m very happy to win my first 500 title, especially after winning a special semifinal against one of the greatest players ever on clay,” Cuevas said. “Today, against Guido, I won a difficult but good match between the two of us…Guido is a very complete player. He had a great week here.”
It was the fourth career title for the 30-year-old Cuevas, and his first since Sao Paulo a year ago. And on an odd stat, he became the first player to beat five straight left-handed opponents and win a title, according to the ATP.
“It’s been a great week,” said Pella, who lost his first career final but jumps into the Top 50. “Now, I have to get used to being in the Top 50 for the first time. It’s big, but I need to continue to focus and work hard.”
Schiavone Breaks 3-Year Title Drought at Rio Open
Francesca Schiavone was expected to fade into the sunset after her surprising 2010 French Open title at a late age, but the Italian showed over the weekend she has some juice left on the red dirt. On Sunday she defeated unseeded American Shelby Rogers 2-6, 6-2, 6-2, to win her seventh career title at the Rio Open.
“I feel very emotional right now,” Schiavone said on court afterwards. “It was a very tough match, and I want to congratulate Rogers. She is a young player and she grew a lot in the circuit.”
Rogers lead a set and a break but could not close out the Italian, falling to 0-2 in career finals.
“It was definitely one of the best weeks of my life,” said Rogers, the last player accepted into the main draw, who did not face a seeded player after upsetting No. 8 Andreea Mitu in her opener. “I hope I can come back next year.”
Schiavone improved to 7-11 in career finals and has earned her way back into the Top 100.
“I’m very emotional because Brazil is such a wonderful country,” said Schiavone, who did not face a seeded player after ousting No. 7 Tatjana Maria in the opening round. “Your smile fulfilled my days here and I wish you the best for the Olympic Games. I want to thank everybody who helped me, and now it’s time to enjoy.”
Sam Beats Rampras in All-American Final at Delray Beach Open
While it didn’t feature the week’s crowd-pleasers such as poster boy Grigor Dimitrov or former US Open winner Juan Martin del Potro, the all-American final at the Delray Beach Open on Sunday still had a little bit to peak everyone’s interest as Sam Querrey defeated Rajeev “Rampras” Ram 6-4, 7-6(6).
What was the Sampras-clone Ram, at 31 years of age and only appearing in his second career main draw in Delray, doing in the final? Why has Querrey been doing so poor of late, and why was he unseeded? Why were both these clowns in the final?
All questions were answered over the weekend as Ram shocked the No. 4-seeded Dimitrov in the semifinals, and Querrey ended the comeback run of Del Potro. Querrey, who lost in the first round at the Australian Open, entered the week at No. 61, looking to regain his fitness after looking gassed in a semifinal loss the previous week in Memphis.
“We were both a little nervous today, it wasn’t the cleanest match,” Querrey said. “I just battled through and happened to hit one great shot in the second set, and it was on match point.”
Ram attributed the week’s result to working from a new fitness plan and taking care of his body. He hasn’t finished inside the Top 100 of the ATP Rankings since 2009, but he will now climb to a career-high ranking inside the Top 60.
For Querrey it was his first title since Los Angeles 2012.
“Sometimes it feels better to win when you don’t play your best, because you know you have another gear,” Querrey said. “I had two finals last year, both close losses, so it feels good to be in the winner’s circle.”
Ram fell to 2-1 in career finals, winning both his career titles on grass at Newport.
“It’s hard when you play someone you know so well in a final,” said Rampras, who blew a break lead in both sets. “I would’ve loved to hold my serve every time and win 6-4, 6-4, but that’s not how it works. I thought I played well in the tiebreak, but he hit the outside of the line three times.”
TENNIS-X NEWS, NOTES, QUOTES AND BARBS
CANUCKS GET SIDEWAYS LOOKS — Canadians Genie Bouchard and Milos Raonic continue to turn off fans and tournament directors in 2016. Raonic pulled from the Delray Beach event citing a hip injury (which requires rest and ice), but then he showed up dunking basketballs and playing scrambling defense on TV during the NBA celebrity all-star game. Bouchard took it a step further, saying she couldn’t represent Canada in Fed Cup because she needed to “practice,” also pulling out of the WTA Rio event, then she showed up playing in the NBA celebrity game along with the 3-4 days of festivities surrounding the event. Raonic is scheduled to play in Acapulco this week, making a quick recovery after the “rest.” How about some truth for these withdrawals, or some ATP and WTA fines for stiffing the tournaments you were committed to? But no worries, it all turned out for Genie, who just got a boatload appearance fee for Qatar this week after Serena Williams and other top seeds pulled out. “Little wonder much of Canada views Bouchard for what she is: a vane, self-absorbed, coddled twit,” summarized Canadian web commentor Mark. “Hopefully [she] takes citizenship in another country and stops embarrassing Canada.”
So Juan Martin del Potro’s left wrist (for his two-handed backhand) has been the major thing, sidelining him for the past two years, and in that two-year period he couldn’t learn a one-handed backhand and a better slice?…Rafael Nadal said he struggled with the heat in his semifinal loss at the Argentina Open two weeks ago? The King of Clay got too hot on the red stuff? Wha? Who is this? Has an alien replicant who can’t play tennis replaced Rafa? There you go conspiracy theorists, mystery solved. You’re welcome…Serving for the match during one of his rounds at Delray Beach, Rajeev Ram hit FOUR double faults. That’s tight. Should have done the Michael Chang underhand serve. Always a crowd-pleaser, and sure to unhinge your opponent and want him to punch you in the face in the locker room. Afterwards Ram came correct: “I was tighter than a drum. That’s never happened to me, four double faults in a game. But I’m really proud of the way I fought back and didn’t let the emotions get the best of me.”…The ATP fine system has done pretty well in putting grade-schooler Nick Kyrgios in place, eh?…On Sunday CNN and the Daily Mail headlines framed Bernard Tomic and Nick Kyrgios as “Bad Boys” — the media, and fans, love bad boys…Who was the dick flying a drone over the Delray Beach semifinals?…The Tennis Integrity Unit has banned another player, this time Thailand’s Jatuporn Nalamphun, who has never been ranked, for 18 months. The 22-year-old admitted to betting on matches, and was found guilty of failing to cooperate with the investigation.
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