Estrella Burgos Rallies To Retain Quito Crown

Dominican downs Bellucci in final

Victor Estrella Burgos joined a select club with a comeback win in Quito on Sunday.

The Dominican, who captured his first ATP World Tour title at age 34 last year, successfully defended his Ecuador Open Quito title with a 4-6, 7-6(5), 6-2 final win against Thomaz Bellucci. He joined Stan Wawrinka (Chennai), Viktor Troicki (Sydney), Novak Djokovic (Australian Open) and Richard Gasquet (Montpellier) in successfully defending their titles this year. He and Wawrinka are the only players 30 or over to accomplish the feat.

Over the years, Estrella Burgos has experienced highs and lows in the Ecuadorian city. An injury sustained at the 2012 Quito Challenger had the tenacious baseliner pondering retirement. In 2015, he made history by becoming the first Dominican to win an ATP World Tour title.

“I can’t describe the feeling when I saw the last ball go out," Estrella Burgos said. "It was an unbelievable moment, to win back-to-back in Quito. Last year I was very nervous. I could barely breathe serving on match point. This year I was much more relaxed closing out the match.”

After the trophy ceremony, a jubilant Estrella Burgos rode a slide into the pool at Club Jacaranda. He was followed by the ballboys, who jumped into the water to join the two-time champion.

“The conditions were difficult," Estrella Burgos said. "It was sunny and so windy. It was impossible to return [Bellucci’s] serve in the first set.”

The third-seeded Bellucci took the initiative in the first set, stretching Estrella Burgos with heavy left-handed serves and keeping rallies short with penetrating ground strokes. The Brazilian jumped on his first break opportunity to move ahead 5-4. In the following game, Estrella Burgos saved set point with an inside-out forehand winner, but found himself trailing when Bellucci wrong-footed him two points later to claim the set in 29 minutes.

In the second set, the eventual winner found success by slicing forehand returns and extending the baseline exchanges. Bellucci, who did not face break point in the first two sets, maintained his dominance on serve by targeting the Dominican’s backhand. In the tie-break, Bellucci led early, but missed a short forehand at 3/2 to give his opponent a lifeline. Estrella Burgos made the most of this chance, evening the match with a service winner.

The defending champion rode the momentum shift and broke in the opening game of the deciding set, sealing the win in just over two hours.

“It was a difficult day,” Bellucci said. “The wind did not allow me to maintain a good level. I was dominating and I had options to win the match, but I wasted them. In the third set, I lost my rhythm on serve and he raised his level. I’m happy to have reached the final, but sad because I could have won.”

Estrella Burgos improved to 10-0 in Quito and maintained his perfect record in the FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry against Bellucci (2-0 at tour-level, 1-0 on the ATP Challenger Tour). Both of his ATP World Tour final appearance have come at the Ecuador Open Quito. He earned 250 Emirates ATP Rankings points and $82,450, while Bellucci received 150 points and $43,430.