Uzbekistan’s 31-year-old Denis Istomin won the Chengdu Open in China on Sunday, in the final benefiting when Marcos Baghdatis retired at 3-2 in the first set citing a back injury.
Two years ago Istomin became the first player from Uzbekistan to win an ATP title when he raised the trophy in Nottingham on grass.
“I know his situation, because I’ve had a lot of injuries,” said Istomin. “I know the feeling and we are good friends, so my first thought was to help Marcos when I saw him go down. Of course I want to win the title, but not this way. I hope he gets better and will be okay for the rest of the season.
“I feel great and especially today I was feeling better than the other matches. I think I’m in the same condition as I was in Australia at the beginning of the season. My next tournament will be a challenger in my hometown of Tashkent and then the ATP events in Stockholm, Basel and Paris. I’m feeling fine now and will try to finish the year as best as I can.”
In the semifinals Istomin toppled No. 5 seed Yuichi Sugita, and is projected to rise to just outside the Top 50 on the ATP rankings.
Baghdatis won from a set down in three of his four matches but the efforts took their toll by the final.
“I was feeling a bit of pain in my back during the week, but late after my match last night I felt some spasms,” the Cypriot said. “This morning I woke up a bit the same. After my warm-up, it got worse. The ATP physio worked on me for an hour and a half. I was okay for three or four games and the spasms came back. I’ve had back issues before, but not like this.
“It’s a bit disappointing to finish this way, but it’s true that it’s always positive to be in the final of a tournament.”
The 32-year-old entered the event ranked outside the Top 100, and fell to 4-10 in career finals with his last championship coming at Sydney in 2010. Istomin improved to 2-2 in career finals.
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