Cristian Garin/Fotojump

Five ATP Tour finals on clay and four titles, the last one conquered this Sunday, at the Rio Open presented by Claro. That’s the aftermath of Cristian Garin’s last 12 months.

Third seeded at Jockey Club Brasileiro, Garin defeated qualifier Gianluca Mager in two sets to win his second consecutive title _he won in Cordoba two weeks ago_ his first ATP 500.

He also reached a personal-best nine-match winning streak. With the win, the 23 year-old not only earned earned $355,530 but also won 500 FedEx ATP Ranking points and is projected to crack the ATP Top 20 for the first time in his career. Garin began the week at a career-best World No. 25.

“I’m really emotional and winning the Rio Open means a lot to me. It’s hard to describe this past week. I slept only four or five hours and woke up nervous this morning and it ended up being one of the best days of my life”, said Garin.

“Winning an event of this magnitude motivates me even more. I will never forget this week. And receiving the trophy from Gustavo Kuerten’s hand means so much to me… It’s for moments like this that I play tennis and make daily sacrifices. This means so so much to me and I’m still really emotional. Now it’s time to enjoy a bit and tomorrow I’m back to work”, said the player who’s going to play at the Santiago Open, in front of his home crowd this week.

On his way to the title, the Chilean had to play twice this Sunday because of the rain delay. First he defeated Croatian Borna Coric by 6/4 and 7/5 in the semifinals.

A few hours later he was back on court to face Mager for the first time in his career.

And despite coming from the qualifying draw, the Italian was not an easy opponent, forcing Garin to overcome a 5/3 in the second set after one hour and 35 minutes. The final score was 7/6 (3) and 7/5.

“This was truly and unforgettable week. This is a crazy sport. Just seven days ago I was in Buenos Aires and lost at the first round to a player that’s not even in the top 300 (lost to Argentinian Juan Manuel Cerundolo). A week later here I am, having played my first ATP 500 final and in Rio de Janeiro. It’s hard to describe what I’m feeling. It will only sink in tomorrow”, said the 25 year-old Italian who defeated Buenos Aires champion Casper Ruud at the first round in Rio and then world’s number four Dominic Thiem on the quarter-finals.

“When I saw that I was going to play Ruud I said that it would be a good test for me to see where I stand, as he had just won Buenos Aires. It was my first ATP 500 and I just wanted to play each point. Then with Thiem was just a dream. Our match was rain delayed and I couldn’t sleep all night thinking about that. Next day I was super nervous and my coach helped me a lot. I still can’t believe this all happened in the past week”, said Mager, currently number 128 in the world but who is projected to be 77th next week.

“Garin played really well today. He is a great player, he just won Cordoba as well and I did the best I could. I don’t regret anything.”

Share this post on: