Alexandr Dolgopolov wrote his name into Argentine tennis’ history books yesterday by becoming the first Ukrainian tennis player to win a title in the country, following his victory over first-placed seed, Japanese Kei Nishikori, 7-6 (4) 6-4.
The result came as somewhat of an upset: Dolgopolov is ranked 66th in the world – a whole 61 places below Nishikori, ranked 5th in the ATP ranking.
Dolgopolov came into the final on the back of a strong week of tennis and picked up particular praise for his strong service game, allowing him to dispatch several clay-court specialists in the previous rounds. Whilst the spotlight focused on the tournament’s big names such as Spaniard David Ferrer (29th), Uruguayan Pablo Cuevas (30th),Italian Fabio Fognini (45th) and Nishikori, the 28 year-old quietly carved his way to the final without losing a single set all tournament.
As with the rest of the tournament, Dolgopolov used his big serve and explosive forehand to even out a match with his better-ranked opponent. Little could Nishikori do to reply the serve, particularly during the second set. On top of that, he seemed less agile than usual – most likely a result of an ankle injury that has hampered his performances in recent matches.
The first set ended in a tiebreak, which Dolgopolov ended up taking after coming out on top with a narrow 7-4 win. His consistent serve and a single break were enough for him to take the second set and thus the championship.
His victory means Ukraine joins Brazil, Chile, Spain, Argentina and Austria as countries with winners of the tournament.