Buenos Aires, Doha, Memphis, Rotterdam 2017
Last week Argentine capital Buenos Aires was the host of the ATP 250 event. The draw featured Japan’s no. 1 Kei Nishikori as the top seed. Nishikori, currently ranked no. 5 was the favourite in the clash against world no. 66 Alexandr Dolgopolov of Ukraine. Dolgopolov defeated no. 2 seed Uruguay’s Pablo Cuevas in the second round and Spain’s Pablo Careño Busta in the semis to reach the Argentina Open Final. Dolgopolov, the underdog in Sunday’s match came out on top defeating Nishikori in straight sets 7:6(5) 6:4.
“I think you can call it a perfect week," he said. ”I didn’t lose a set and beat Kei for the first time. The fans were really supporting me and I felt very welcome here.” Dolgopolov earned his 3rd ATP title, first since winning in Washington D.C in 2012. Nishikori, despite the loss, left Buenos Aires in good spirits, and commented after the match, “I’m glad to be here in the final. Unfortunately I lost today, but Alex played better than me. I didn’t play badly, so hopefully I can keep up this level.”
Qatar’s capital Doha was the host of its WTA premier event. With the early exit of world no. 2 Angelique Kerber all eyes were on the no. 2 seed and current world no. 3 Karolina Pliskova to take home the title. In the final she met the former world no. 1 Caroline Wozniacki. Despite having 3-0 lead on head to head record the Dane was not the favourite coming into the final. The Czech no.1 has enjoyed a very solid start to the season winning her first title of the year in Brisbane. In Doha she claimed her second title of the season. She overwhelmed Wozniacki with her solid performance to win her 8th career title over all. She defeated Wozniacki in straight sets 6:3 6:4. "I think I'm having a great start to the year, which is always important," Pliskova said after the match. "To beat players like Cibulkova and Wozniacki is something amazing. I've never beat them before, but I was trying really hard this week so I'm really happy with my wins here.” Despite the loss Wozniacki has plenty to be happy about, "It's been a great week, despite the tough (weather) conditions for all of us. To be here in the final is something to be really proud of, the way I've been playing this week. I'm very disappointed with the loss but Karolina was playing really well. She deserved this one, but I'm going to try to get my revenge next time.”
In Memphis, in the battle of the 24 year-olds between USA’s Ryan Harrison and Georgia’s Nikoloz Basilashvili, it was the American who claimed his maiden ATP title. He defeated his opponent in straight sets 6:1, 6:4 and needed just 76 minutes to do so. Harrison is the second first-time winner this year, joining Sydney champion Gilles Muller. He is also the second player to clinch an ATP World Tour title without dropping a set, in addition to Alexandr Dolgopolov, who won in Buenos Aires. "It's always going to be special, but it's even better here in front of a group of people that drove up from your hometown and have known you since you were five years old," Harrison said. "To do it in front of friends and family and people that saw the work I was putting in and my dedication, it definitely makes it more special. This was the first place I saw a professional tennis match, driving up from Shreveport. I will always remember Memphis. All those emotions were coming out there at the end. You have dreams and aspirations in life and for me it's trying to be as great as I can in tennis. For me to come back here and win this title when I had thought it was impossible, it's amazing.”
"Ryan was playing unbelievable in the 12 break points," said Basilashvili. "He was playing really well. If I had just one, I could have found the rhythm, but I wasn't able to. He made me play a lot of shots, which helped him. He has been playing very good all week.”
Jo-Wilfred Tsonga won his 13th ATP World Tour crown and second at the 500 level (Tokyo 2009), ending a two year title drought on the indoor courts in Rotterdam. On his way to the title the Frenchman captured his 400th career win dispatching Tomas Berdych in the semi-final and staging a comeback from a set down against Belgian David Goffin to take home the title. "I'm really happy," said Tsonga. "These titles come at the right moments. The last couple of months I put in a lot of effort to come back to this level. It's a huge reward for me and it gives me new expectations for the rest of the year. I changed my serve and worked a lot on my backhand and my returns. I also changed my strings. There were many things to improve my game and do things better. Today it's a reward and I will try to be better and better. In the second set, I had another mentality on court. I was more aggressive and it made the difference.” Goffin’s efforts in Rotterdam have earned him a top 10 ranking spot for the first time in his career. "It was a great week in the end," said Goffin, who was bidding for his third ATP World Tour title and first in three years. "There was a lot of emotion this week and I won a lot of matches. I was a bit tired today. I started the final really well, but in the end Jo played better than me, especially in the third set. Of course I'm disappointed, but I played some good tennis and will be in the Top 10 on Monday."