By Romi Cvitkovic
WASHINGTON, D.C. – After a three-set marathon match that included two rain delays, young Ukrainian Alexandr Dolgopolov pulled out the win over former world No. 2 Tommy Haas, 6-7(7), 6-4, 6-1.
Dolgopolov has struggled with injuries since January and is just now returning to his good form of last year when he broke through into the top 15. With the title in Washington, Dolgopolov moves solidly back into the top 20 and is guaranteed a seeding at the U.S. Open.
Dolgopolov’s road to the win tonight, however, looked uncertain as he lost the first set, even when playing much cleaner tennis than his opponent. He served eight aces and no double faults, while Haas struggled to find his rhythm, double-faulting three times alone in the seventh game to get broken.
An extended rain delay occurred at 6-5 with Dolgopolov serving to stay in the set. After nearly two hours, both men returned highly emotional, with the self-talk and frustrations beginning to surface. Dolgopolov stuck to his game plan of hitting to the weaker Haas backhand, but it backfired as Haas was able to strike some smart plays and convert on his second set point due to a Dolgopolov error.
The second set started much like the first but the frustrations escalated as the often composed Dolgopolov began slapping his thigh while Haas kept yelling at himself. Neither player made a move until the very last game of the set when Dolgopolov broke a visibly irritated Haas.
“Whether I won or lost the second set there, I cracked a little bit mentally,” Haas admitted, and it was the beginning of the end for the German.
Sensing that Haas was “giving away more free points than in the first set,” Dolgopolov started the third set with an ace and never looked back, reeling off three games instantly to take command. Haas succumbed to his emotional outbursts, and after sending a ball long, went into full self-destruction mode, yelling in German, scolding the chair umpire for not getting the ball kids to clean a wet spot, and eve threw his racquet repeatedly.
Although he was able to recollect himself somewhat, Haas was down 1-4 and double-faulted for his last time, giving Dolgopolov the chance to serve out the match. Facing his first match point, Dolgopolov won on an unreturnable second serve that Haas shanked wide.
It had been almost exactly a year since Dolgopolov’s sole title in Umag last year, so there was a sense of urgency to do well this week giving the upcoming U.S. Open.
“I think a small part of me [knew that] I had to play better when I needed. I dropped some points from Umag and I understood that I needed to get some points to get back into the top 20. Because once you are there, you don’t really want to get out of there. That was additional motivation for me.”
After the match, the two players put aside their emotions and enjoyed each other’s company at the podium with their glass trophies. Haas, followed by Dolgopolov, stopped to sign endless autographs for the diehard fans that had stuck out through the rain delays. Dolgopolov even took the shirt off his back and gave it to a young fan who requested it. Now, that’s a player who loves what he does and gives respect to his fans.
Former UVA players Huey and Inglot win the Citi Open doubles title over favorites Querrey and Anderson
In doubles action, two unseeded teams battled for the Citi Open title as Sam Querrey and Kevin Anderson took on Treat Huey and Dominic Inglot. While Querrey and Anderson may be household names, it was Huey and Inglot that brought out the cheering crowds. Both are former University of Virginia tennis players, with Huey graduating high school locally in the District.
The young upstart team of Huey and Inglot didn’t succumb to pressure as they got out to an early start, breaking to go up 3-0. A little tightness set in and the first set was forced into a tiebreaker. With Inglot’s deft hands at net and Huey’s ability to stand ground at the baseline against his much more experienced opponents, the duo took the tiebreak 9-7 when Anderson double-faulted.
The second set was a battle for both teams as neither gave up serve. In the fifth game of the set, Inglot served four aces in a row against Querrey and Anderson, who are notably two of the tallest and most difficult guys to pass on tour. When asked to comment on this serving dominance, Inglot replied that he “actually know that until you just told me, but, it feels fantastic. Serve has always been the strongest part of my game. I know there were some games that got a little sticky, so to be able to come with a game like that is really helpful.”
Querrey and Anderson came back strong, not allowing the former Cavaliers much wiggle room, and forced a second set tiebreak when Huey hit the final approach volley into the net.
The deciding ten point match tiebreak saw both teams fight mightily, but Huey and Inglot broke through at 5-4 and never looked back. They reeled off the next five-of-six points, winning on a Querrey error.
This is the pair’s second ATP doubles final and first title together. They previously met Querrey when they lost to him and Blake in Houston, and Treat acknowledged that “we didn’t want to lose to [Querrey] again in the finals of another tournament. So it was good we got the win in the end.”
Huey continued: “I didn’t think I’d really win a title [so soon after college]. Last year was my first final where Somdev Devvarman and I lost, but I was thinking, “I just got to an ATP final, how cool is that?!” But winning one is obviously cooler, and it’s a lot more fun to be on the winning end of the match.”