In a thrilling final match on the Centre Court of the Sichuan International Tennis Centre this evening, Australian world No. 123 Bernard Tomic saved four match points en route to a 6-1, 3-6, 7-6(7) victory over Italian world No. 13 Fabio Fognini to lift his fourth career title and first title in three years at the Chengdu Open.
The former world No. 17 Tomic started the match on the back foot, having to save two break points in the very first game, but after he broke Fognini’s serve in the next game and saved another four break points in the third game, his Italian opponent cut a frustrated figure on court and hit too many shots into the net or long.
In an intensely fought second set, 31-year-old Fognini saved break point by a hair’s breadth in the third game, with electronic review confirming the line judges ‘in’ call that was challenged by Tomic, and finally got past the Aussie’s powerful serve in the fourth game to take a 3-1 lead.
Even though Tomic immediately leveled matters with a break of his own in the next game, Fognini once again took the lead in the eighth game, when he rallied from 15-40 down to take four points on the trot before closing out the set on serve.
Both players struggled to hold serve in the first five games of the third set, with Tomic converting two out of five break points and Fognini also breaking his opponent twice, albeit in three opportunities. The players then held serve strongly to carry the match into a tense tiebreak finale.
Fognini scored three mini-breaks in the first nine points to Tomic’s one to go 6-3 up and have three match points on serve. Tomic saved all three match points with a combination of Fognini making mistakes (double faulting on the first match point), luck (his return hit the net and went over during the second match point) and an excellent forehand down the line on the third match point.
As light rain began to all, the drama continued when Fognini had another match point at 7-6 but hit his shot wide. Backed by a thrilled crowd, the momentum shifted to the Aussie who took the next three points on the trot and completed the victory with a powerful cross court forehand.
Tomic’s long path to victory in the Chengdu Open started in the qualifying rounds and included hard fought comeback victories Belarus’s Igor Gerasimov, American Bradley Klahn and South Africa’s Lloyd Harris. He also ousted seventh seed Joao Sousa in yesterday’s semifinal.
“I could have lost like five times this tournament. I was down in so many matches and faced match points against Harris in the second round as well. It’s been a rollercoaster week. Today I don’t know I saved how many match points. It was crazy. It was truly a really good match. For me to win here is huge. I’m so happy. He is a really talented player. I wish him the best to make the London masters,” said Tomic.
Fognini was despondent to have missed a chance to capture a record-breaking fourth title this season and become the first Italian to do so, but acknowledged that it wasn’t his day.
“This is sport. Sometimes you like it, sometimes not. It has been a great week, a great year for me. Now I am sad because I have lost a final with four match points but that’s the sport. Sometimes you win sometimes you don’t,” said the Italian.
Top seeded Croatian doubles pair Ivan Dodig and Mate Pavic saved their best for last here as they swept past the American-Indian duo of Austin Krajicek and Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan 6-2, 6-4 in 52 minutes to lift their second doubles title as a pair.
Former world No. 1 Pavic (achieved in May this year) and world No. 24 Dodig (career high of No. 4) saved all six break points they faced during the match, four of which came in a memorable rally from 0-40 down in the fourth game of the second set, while converting three of seven break opportunities and winning 78% of their 46 service points.
The duo, who are playing in their eighth Tour-level event together, recorded three super tiebreaker victories en route to the final and ousted tournament fourth seeds Santiago Gonzalez and Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi on Friday to make their fourth final appearance as a tandem.
The Chengdu Open doubles crown is Pavic’s 13th career title and fifth of this year, which includes picking up his first career Grand Slam at the Australian Open with regular world tour partner Oliver Marach. Dodig takes home his eleventh career doubles trophy and second of the year.
“Yeah, I’m feeling great. This is my first time here in Chengdu and I really enjoyed the tournament. To finish the week with this trophy is a great feeling. The win is important for us. We played good matches here. We felt great at this tournament and in general in this city. We are leaving very happy,” said 33-year-old Dodig.
“We don’t play too many matches together and it’s our second title after four finals together, so I’m happy with the title. We were playing better and better, raising the level match by match. I would say we saved the best for the last. Coming back for my second time here, I would say this tournament is great, the hotel is one of the best on tour, with great facilities and great conditions for the players. They improve year after year and hopefully I am coming back next year,” added 25-year-old Pavic.
The tournament is owned by IMG and is organized by the Chinese Tennis Association and Chengdu Municipal Government, is co-organized by Chengdu Sports Bureau, Shuangliu District Government and Chengdu Culture Tourism Group and is promoted by Sichuan Investment International Tennis Centre Development Co., Ltd., CCTV IMG (Beijing) Sports Management Co. Ltd. And WME IMG China Culture Development Co. Ltd.
The Chengdu Open is also very proud to have the distinguished support from ATP World Tour’s Premier Partner Emirates, the official player hotel St. Regis, Chengdu, which fast became a favourite of the players, the official car Audi, Dunlop tennis balls, the Sichuan Tennis International Hotel which is conveniently located adjacent to the courts and providing efficient services to the tournament, the official digital media partner iQiyi, the official apparel Erke, the official stringer Yonex, the official gym equipment Life Fitness, the official tea Sichuan Mengding Tea Co. Ltd. and the official water Ice Age.
The official tournament website www.ChengduOpenTennis.com has additional information about the tournament.