Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan captured his first singles title of the year and the second of his career when his opponent Marcos Baghdatis retired with a back injury at 2-3 down on serve after just 24 minutes in today’s singles final of the Chengdu Open 2017.
Istomin was the first to rush over to Baghdatis as the 32-year-old Cypriot sank to the court floor in agony and frustration.
“I knew the situation because I also have a lot of injuries and have had to retire from matches before. Marcos and I are good friends so I wasn’t thinking about winning at all when he went down. First of all, I wanted to help him and see if he was okay. Of course I am happy to win the tournament, but not in this way. I hope Marcos gets better and can continue playing this season. I think it was very respectful for him to come on court and try even though he had started to feel the pain yesterday. He is a nice person and great player,” said the 31-year-old, whose maiden title came in Nottingham ’15.
Despite winning the final via his opponent’s retirement, Istomin has had a tremendous tournament, defeating two seeded players this week – third seeded defending champ Karen Khachanov in the second round and fifth seed Yuichi Sugita yesterday – and admits he is in the kind of form that saw him complete the biggest win of his career over Novak Djokovic in the Australian Open.
“I feel great on court right now. Today I was feeling even better than past days. I think I’m in the same condition I was in Australia in the beginning of the year. Next tournament is in Tashkent, my home city Challenger, and then the European swing. I’m feeling fine now and I want to finish the year as best as I can,” said Istomin.
Despite a year filled with niggling injuries, Baghdatis had been in fine form throughout the tournament, rallying from a set down to defeat three of his four opponents en route to the final – Pospisil in the first round, Gojowczyk in the second and Pella in yesterday’s semifinal – but had begun to experience discomfort in his back last night and underwent treatment this morning.
“There was some slight pain throughout the week, but yesterday night after my match against Pella I felt some spasms and this morning it was the same. It got worse after my warm up and so the ATP Physio did an hour and half work on me. I was ok for the three or four games but then the spasms came back and there was really nothing I could do to continue fighting for the match,” said a disappointed Baghdatis, who admitted it felt like a new injury and not a recurrence of his previous back issues.
In the doubles finals played earlier in the afternoon, Israeli-Pakistani duo Jonathan Erlich and Aisam-Ul-haq Qureshi have picked up their first title as a combo with a dominant 6-3, 7-6(3) victory over Kiwi-Brazilian pair Marcus Daniell and Marcelo Demoliner in the doubles finals of the Chengdu Open 2017.
Erlich and Qureshi did not face a single break point in their first nine service games, and although they committed three unforced errors in a row to allow their opponents their first and only break in the tenth game of the second set, 40-year-old Erlich turned back the years with a dazzling display at the net in the tie-break to complete the straight sets victory.
The victory marks Erlich’s 19th doubles title and first since Shenzhen ’15, while it is Qureshi’s 16th doubles trophy and his fifth title of the year – tied for most of the season with Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo.
“I think we executed this week really well. This is one of the best matches I’ve ever seen Aisam play. Really high level and he really stepped up and helped me a lot, in the beginning especially. I’m really proud of him and we enjoyed 100% on the court. Once you trust your partner, you’re ready to step forward to win the match and happily we did four matches of that,” said Erlich.
Qureshi, who is incredibly at 5-0 in finals appearances this season, paid tribute to his partner’s performance in what was their only second outing as a duo (lost in first round at Houston ’15).
“He showed why he won Wimbledon before and why he was Top 10 before and why he has won 19 titles on the tour. He finished like a top five player today. If you see the highlights of the tie-breaker, every ball he touched was golden and was a winner,” said the 37-year-old Qureshi.
Read Qureshi’s inspiring ebook “Stop War, Start Tennis! Lessons of Life and Understanding from a Pakistani Tennis Player here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B009XE3LLO/ref=cm_sw_r_tw_dp_x_iaq0zbEV4S4CJ
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 IMG Sports Development (Shanghai) Limited.
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, Srixon tennis balls, the Sichuan Tennis International Hotel which is conveniently located adjacent to the courts and providing efficient services to the tournament, the official sponsor Chengdu Better City, the official car Unicorn, the official apparel Erke, the official gym equipment Life Fitness, the official Chinese tea Sichuan Mengding Tea Co. Ltd., the official stringer Yonex and the official water Ice Age. The Official media partners are Iqiyi Sports, West China Metropolis, Chengdu Radio and TV Station, Chengdu Daily, CTA APP, Shenzhen Hundred-Meter Life Shares Co., Ltd., and Tennis World.
The official tournament website www.ChengduOpenTennis.com has additional information about the tournament.