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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.”

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Granollers/Zeballos/Fotojump

For the second weekend in a row, Marcel Granollers and Horacio Zeballos lifted a winner’s trophy.

After taking the title at the doubles’ draw in Buenos Aires last week, this Sunday they defeated qualifiers Salvatore Caruso and Federico Gaio to win the Rio Open presented by Claro for the first time.

The match wasn’t as easy as the stats indicated and last year’s US Open finalists had to overcame a 7-4 at the match tie-break to win their third title together (they also won in Canada, last year). The final score was 6/4, 5/7 and 10/7.

“Winning here in Rio means a lot to us. It’s always special to win an ATP 500 event and it gives us a lot of confidence. That’s a confirmation that we are on the right way and that things that we’ve been trying to improve are working out and we are getting the results”, said Granollers.

“It was not an easy match today, they were playing on a high level and serving super well, specially on the second set and it made our lives difficult. We hold on on the match tie-break and it’s amazing to win a tournament like that”, said the Spaniard.

En route to win their third ATP title together, Granollers and Zeballos needed to win two matches on Sunday due to rain on Saturday. With the victory, the Spaniard and the Argentinian will receive $114,200 and each earn 500 ATP Doubles Ranking points.

The title is another incentive for Zeballos to focus on his doubles career _he is currently number four in the doubles’ ranking.

“I had a beautiful singles’ career and never thought I could be where I am now playing doubles. I don’t regret anything and I gave my best playing singles, but I was still far from being at the Top 10. On the other hand, playing doubles I’m much better than I ever expected. I’m still young, I’m focused and I have a few challenges ahead, like playing more Grand Slams finals and maybe getting to a Finals at the end of the season”, said the Argentinian who won one singles’ title and reached a career-high 39th position.

For Caruso and Gaio the second place was not a bad result in the end. They only decided to team-up to play the Rio Open when they arrived in Rio. And they finished the week having played their first ATP Tour final together after stunning second seeds Lucasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo by 6/3, 3/6, 10/4 in the semi-finals.

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Borna Coric/Fotojump

Despite missing the chance to reach his first ATP Tour clay final since 2017, Borna Coric leaves Rio de Janeiro on a positive note after playing his first-ever Rio Open presented by Claro.

“It was a very positive week for me, obviously I didn’t get the result I wanted today but at the same time I felt I was playing really good the whole week. The conditions in Rio were very tough but also really good to prepare for Indian Wells and Miami. So I will definitely think about coming back next year”, said the fifth seeded at the carioca event after losing his semifinal match to Chilean Cristian Garin.

The tough conditions that Coric faced this week, like the heat, the humidy, the rain delays, and the long days at Jockey Club Brasileiro were not a problem for the world’s number 32.

“I knew it’s was not going to be easy. I came here yesterday at 1 pm and left at about midnight or something, I don’t even remember. Then I had to wake up at 8 am today. It’s not easy but I enjoyed it very much”, said the player who did some sightseeing before the tournament started.

“Rio is an unbelievable city, we stayed in a very nice hotel and the facilities are great as well. I was really enjoying my time here and I’m gonna consider coming back next year as well. I’m very easy going, so if I like the tournament, an I do like it here, then I’m gonna try to come back next year”, said Coric, who pulled out of the Santiago Open this week and still don’t know what his calendar looks like for the next weeks.

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Cristian Garin/Fotojump

Third seeded at the Rio Open presented by Claro, Cristian Garin reached the fifth ATP Tour final in the past year and now faces qualifier Gianluca Mager hoping to win the second consecutive tittle.

The Chilean player defeated Borna Coric by 6/4 and 7/5 and reached his personal-best eight-match winning streak. With the win, he is projected to crack the Top 20.

“I feel good. Five finals in one year I cannot complain. But finals are made to be won and I have to be on top of my game. I have a great opportunity today and hopefully I can make the best of it”, said Garin, who arrived in Rio fresh from a title in Cordoba, two weeks ago.

In a match that started on Saturday and ended only this Sunday, Garin didn’t have problems to defeat Coric for the first time in his career (they are now tied in 1-1).

“Yesterday was a very long day for me, I was really tired and I thought it was best to suspend the match. I didn’t get much sleep but I was really hoping to get to the final and lucky we didn’t have to play the tie break”, said Garin, who will have just a few hours to regroup and play the

Coric, who was playing first ATP Tour clay semi-final since 2017, in Marrakech, couldn’t play his best tennis.

“I’m not sure yet was was missing in my game today, I need to sit down and watch the match. He was the best player on court today, no doubt about that. I was not serving as good as I was at the start of the week. I just felt he was playing really good and has lot of confidence”, said the 23 year-old Croatian.

“I played better tennis here in Rio than in the beginning of the season but at the same time yesterday and today I didn’t feel great, I felt there was something missing in my game. Of course I give all credit to Garin, he was playing an unbelievable game and deserved to win.”

TIE-BREAK

At the other semifinal, Italian qualifier Gianluca Mager defeated lucky loser Attila Balazs in three sets: 7/6 (4), 4/6 and 7/6 (2) in another match that was rain-delayed this Saturday and was resumed only on Sunday at Jockey Club Brasileiro.

This was the second time Mager and Balazs met at this year’s Rio Open. In the second qualifying round, Mager dropped just two games to overcome Balazs 6-0, 6-2 and book his spot in the main draw. Balazs later received a place in the main draw as a lucky loser.

Mager, who defeated favorite Dominc Thiem at the quarter-finals of the Rio Open, is playing his first ever ATP 500 event.
The Italian arrived in Rio with only two tour-level wins (2-3). And, including the qualifying, he only dropped one set at the Rio Open, to Balazs at the semifinal.
“It’s a dream. I’ve been working really hard to get here and it’s finally paying off. It was an unbelievable match, I was down 4/2 in the third set and I fought every point. Here I am now at the final. I’m at loss of words right now. I gave all I have. Now I’ll try to rest a bit, eat something and I then enjoy every minute of this final”, said the 25-year-old, who lifted three ATP Challenger Tour trophies last year, also beat Buenos Aires champion Casper Ruud in the first round.

Last qualifier to make it to a final was Lloyd Harris Adelaide, in Adelaide, this year _Lost to Andrey Rublev. Last one to win a tournament was Daniil Medvedev, who defeated Kei Nishikori, in Tokyo, in 2018.

Not as happy as the Italian, lucky loser Balazs said that he needed a bit of luck to make it to the final.

“I had no luck at the most important points, he was always playing amazing, hitting winners and lots of lines I think if I had more luck I would have won. At the moment, one minute after I lost a match like that I’m feeling really sad. But it was a positive week, one of the best weeks of my life and I will feel better later”, said the Hungarian, who arrived in Rio de Janeiro this week with a career-high ranking of No. 106.

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Salvatore Caruso and Federico Gaio/Fotojump

When Salvatore Caruso and Federico Gaio arrived for the Rio Open presented by Claro they were not sure if they should team-up to play the doubles’ draw or not. They decided to go for it and now they are at their first ATP Tour final together.

Not only that but on the way to play the final this Sunday, at 3 pm (local time), at Quadra Guga Kuerten, they defeated favorites Marcelo Melo/Lucazs Kubot, the second best duo in 2019, in three sets: 6/3, 3/6 and 10/4 at the semifinal.

“We knew we would play against two great players, they play the Tour together, so we knew that it would be difficult. But we also knew that if we could get our chances we could win this game. The coolest thing about it is that we came from nothing, we were thinking ‘should we play this event or not’ and here we are at the finals. We are good friends outside the court so we are really happy to share this moment”, said Caruso.

Now they will face last week’s Buenos Aires champions Marcel Granollers and Horacio Zeballos at this year’s Rio Open final.

“They have the pressure. We play for fun, against two great players, they were the US Open finalists and play well in every surface, but we are here and let’s see what we can do”, said Gaio.

Before defeating Melo/Kubot they overtook another seeded duo at the quarter-finals: Mate Pavic and Bruno Soares.

“We’ve been playing very good together, we have the same age and we’ve known each other for a long time. We’ve been playing incredible tennis this week, since the qualifying so we are extremely happy”, said Gaio, who’s been playing at the main draw of an ATP event alongside his friend for the first time since 2018, when they lost at the opening round of the Prostejov Challenger.

The Italians have been teaming-up on and off since 2014 and reached only one final, at the Vicenza Challenger, in 2015, when they lost to Argentinians Facundo Bagnis and Guido Pella in two sets.

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Zeballos/Granollers/Fotojump

For the second week in a row, Marcel Granollers/Horacio Zeballos are set to play a final of an ATP event. Third seeded at the Rio Open presented by Claro, they defeated Brazilian wildcard duo Felipe Meligeni and Thiago Monteiro in two sets: 7/6 (4) and 6/4 in a match that started on Friday, continued on Saturday and finally ended on Sunday, due to rain delays.

The final of the doubles’ draw is scheduled for 3 pm (local time) at Quadra Guga Kuerten. They face the winner of Salvatore Caruso/Federico Gaio and Lukazs Kubot/Marcelo Melo.

“We’ve been playing for so long that we had long matches likes this one before, so in this kind of situations all you can do is wait and be patient and be ready and 100% when is time to play again” said Argentinian Zeballos.

With the win over the Brazilians, who defeated top-seeded Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah at the first round in Rio, Granollers/Zeballos extended their winning streak to seven matches _including the title in Buenos Aires last week.

Last year’s US Open finalists, they now hope to win the third title playing together _they won in Argentina and also in Canada, last year.

“We are very happy with our season so far. Last week we had an amazing week in Buenos Aires and here we are playing at a high level once again. We expect a very tough match in the final and hopefully we can win”, said Granollers.

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Borna Coric/Fotojump

Once again the rain delayed some of the matches that were scheduled for this Saturday at the Rio Open presented by Claro.

With that, the semifinals will resume and the final of the singles’ draw will be played this Sunday at Jockey Club Brasileiro.

Four players will take the courts to try to resume their matches and secure a spot at the final of the carioca event, scheduled for 5:30 pm at Quadra Guga Kuerten.

Third seeded Cristian Garin will face fifth seeded Borna Coric, at 1 pm (local time). The Chilean, who is on a seven-match winning streak and arrived in Rio after winning the title in Cordoba, won the first set by 6/4. The second set was tied in 4/4.

This is his fifth career ATP Tour semi-final, all on clay. He is trying to reach his first ATP 500 final.

This is the second time Garin faces Coric at an ATP event. The first one was last year, in Hertogenbosch, when the Croatian won in three sets.

Coric reached the semifinals in Rio after defeating Lorenzo Sonego in two sets on Friday night, in his 150th career win. This is the Croatian’s first ATP Tour clay semi-final since Marrakech, in 2017.

Fifth seed at the Rio Open, Coric tries to overcome Garin and reach his seventh ATP final _he’s got two titles: Marrakech, in 2017, and Halle in 2018, an ATP 500 event.

Also at 1 pm, lucky loser Attila Balazs will take on qualifier Gianluca Mager in another semifinal that was delayed for Sunday because of the rain.

This is Mager and Balazs’ second meeting at this year’s event _Mager won the first one at the qualifying.

Before the semifinal was suspended, Mager had won the first set by 7/6 (4). The Italian is yet to drop a set at the Rio Open, including the qualifying matches.

Mager arrived at the semifinals having defeated top-seeded and 2017 champion Dominic Thiem.

The Italian, who’s playing his first ATP 500 level event and lifted three ATP Challenger Tour trophies last year, also beat Buenos Aires champion Casper Ruud in the first round.

Lucky loser, Balazs made his way to the semis defeating 2016 champion Pablo Cuevas in the first round and highest-ranked Brazilian player Thiago Monteiro in the second.

Currently ranked number 106 in the world, Balazs retired from tennis in 2014 and returned to the circuit two years later.  Last year he reached Umag’s final, the first of his career.

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Rain delay/Fotojump

The semifinals and the final of the doubles draw of the Rio Open presented by Claro will be played this Sunday after the semifinals had to be postponed this Saturday due to the rain.

Both games had already started when they had to be suspended. With that, the final is scheduled to take place at Quadra Guga Kuerten at 3 pm (local time).

Starting at 11 am (local time),  Salvatore Caruso (ITA) / Federico Gaio (ITA) will take on Lucazs Kubot (POL) / Marcelo Melo (BRA), the second best duo in the world last year. The match is tied in 1/1. 

Melo, former number one in the world, was a finalist at the Rio Open in 2014.

Their opponent will be the winner of the matchup that will start at the same time at Jockey Club Brasileiro.

Third-seeds Horacio Zeballos and Marcel Granollers face Brazilian duo Felipe Meligeni and Thiago Monteiro.

The Brazilians lost the first set on the tie break, 7/6 (6) and were leading the second by 1/0 when the match was suspended.

The final will start at 3 pm (local time).

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Dominc Thiem and Gianluca Mager/Fotojump

Not even a night of sleep was enough for Dominic Thiem to comeback at his quarter-final match against Gianluca Mager at the Rio Open presented by Claro.

The Italian, who played his first ever ATP Tour quarter-final, defeated world’s number four in two sets: 7/6 (4) and 7/5 in one hour and 55 minutes.  He secured a spot at the semifinals of the tournament against Attila Balazs, from Hungary, later this Saturday.

“Giancarlo played better than me and deserved to win, so I have to give him credit for that. I was not on top of my game since I arrived here. It’s not easy to adjust your body and mind after playing a Grand Slam [he lost the final of the Australian Open to Novak Djokovic]. Conditions here in Rio are very different from everywhere, which is difficult but at the same time is a very interesting challenge”, said Thiem.

Mager, who came from the Qualifying draw, has yet to drop a set at this year’s edition of the carioca tournament _either in qualifying or the main draw.

“For me this victory was a dream, I don’t know what I can say, I’m very emotional right now. Dominic is a very good, unbelievable player”, said Mager after the match.

Thiem, who won the title in Rio in 2017 without loosing a set, lost the chance of reaching his best ever ranking this Monday, the third position at the ATP ranking.

“To be honest I’m not very worried about that right now because I’ll be number three in a couple of weeks anyways. I’m sad because I lost this match. It makes no difference to be at the Top 3 this Monday or next week”, said the Austrian.

The game started on Friday night and had to be suspended after midnight because of the rain. At that point, Mager led by 7/6 (5), 2/1.

“I worked with my coach after the match was suspended and he told me to stay focused and fight for every point. This is why I was relaxed when I came back to the court today.”

With the win, Mager, ranked number 128 in the world, will face Balazs for the second time in Rio _the Italian won at the qualifying and Balazs made it to the main draw as a lucky looser.

“I know this is a huge opportunity for me, so I will fight for every point again and do my best”, said the Italian.

Balazs secured his spot at the semifinals with a comeback over Spaniard Pedro Martinez by 2/6, 6/4 and 6/2. Their match was also delayed and then suspended on Friday, with the Spaniard winning the first set.

“It was very difficult match. I was there sitting and waiting because of the rain on Friday. I was almost sleeping and they woke me and told me I had to be ready in one hour to play in a different court, which was very different. That’s why I had a bad start yesterday. But then today was a new day for me and I played really well”, said Balazs, who’s playing for the first time at the main draw of an ATP 500 event.

“I don’t care if I’m too tired to play again today or not, who I’m gonna play and if I win or loose. I’m at the semifinal and I want to enjoy the moment, I have nothing to loose”, said the Hungarian, who retired from tennis in 2014 and returned to the circuit two years later.

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Rain delay/Fotojump

Saturday will be a busy day at Jockey Club Brasileiro because of the heavy rain that forced games to be suspended or postponed this Friday.

At 2pm (local time), Dominic Thiem will have to rally to beat Italian Gianluca Mager in one of the quarter-finals.

Qualifier Mager, playing his first ATP Tour quarter-final, leads 7/6 (5), 2/1 against the world number four an top-seeded in Rio.

The Italian has saved four of the five break points he has faced, and he has yet to drop a set in qualifying or the main draw.

The winner of this match will be back in action to play the semifinals of the Rio Open presented by Claro just a few hours later. The match is scheduled to be the second of the session that starts at 5 pm (local time) at the central court.

The opponent will be decided at 2 pm, at the matchup of Pedro Martinez, from Spain, and lucky looser Attila Balazs, at Quadra 1.

Martinez was leading by 6/2 and 2/2 when the rain forced the suspension of the match.

At the doubles draw, Horacio Zeballos and Marcel Granollers won the first set against Brazilian duo Felipe Meligeni and Thiago Monteiro by 7/6 (6). They will resume playing again at 4 pm to decide who moves into the finals.

The winner of this matchup faces the winner of the other semifinal, that will also be played at 4 pm between Salvatore Caruso (ITA) / Federico Gaio (ITA) and Lucazs Kubot (POL) / Marcelo Melo (BRA).

The final of the doubles draw will also happen this Saturday, at Jockey Club Brasileiro. The match will be the third of the session that starts at 5 pm at Quadra Guga Kuerten.

Only two matches resumed this Friday: the victory of Cristian Garin over qualifier Federico Coria and Borna Coric’s win over Lorenzo Sonego.

Coric and Garin play the semifinal at 5 pm, at Quadra Guga Kuerten.

 

ORDER OF PLAY – SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 22, 2020

QUADRA GUGA KUERTEN start 2:00 pm

[1] D. Thiem (AUT) vs [Q] G. Mager (ITA) 67(4) 12

Not Before 5:00 pm

[3] C. Garin (CHI) vs [5] B. Coric (CRO)

[1] D. Thiem (AUT) or [Q] G. Mager (ITA) vs [LL] A. Balazs (HUN) or [Q] P. Martinez (ESP)

[WC] F. Meligeni  (BRA) / T. Monteiro (BRA) or [3] M. Granollers (ESP) / H. Zeballos (ARG) vs [Q] S. Caruso (ITA) / F. Gaio (ITA) or [2] L. Kubot (POL) / M. Melo (BRA)

QUADRA 1 start 2:00 pm

[LL] A. Balazs (HUN) vs [Q] P. Martinez (ESP) 26 22

Not Before 4:00 pm

[Q] S. Caruso (ITA) / F. Gaio (ITA) vs [2] L. Kubot (POL) / M. Melo (BRA)

QUADRA 4 start 4:00 pm

[WC] F. Meligeni  (BRA) / T. Monteiro (BRA) vs [3] M. Granollers (ESP) / H. Zeballos (ARG) 67(6) 00

 

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