Tomic Saves 4 M.P. In Chengdu, Returns To Winners' Circle
Australian also saved a match point versus Harris in the second round
Qualifier Bernard Tomic saved four match points to capture his first ATP World Tour trophy in more than three years on Sunday at the Chengdu Open. The Australian, who played with great focus, also denied top seed Fabio Fognini a piece of Italian tennis history with a 6-1, 3-6, 7-6(7) victory over two hours and 15 minutes.
The 25-year-old Tomic, who recovered from 3/6 and 6/7 in the deciding set tie-break, dropped to the ground in celebration upon securing his first crown since July 2015 in Bogota (d. Mannarino). Now with a 4-2 record in ATP World Tour finals, he earned $190,885 and 250 ATP Rankings points. Fognini had been attempting to become the first Italian man to win four titles in a season.
World No. 123 Tomic had previously recovered from 0/3 in the deciding set tie-break against Egor Gerasimov in the qualifying round last weekend, 6-7(6), 1-3 in the first round against Bradley Klahn and he also saved one match point to beat Lloyd Harris in the second round on Wednesday.
“I should have lost five times,” said Tomic. “In the second round in qualifying to Gerasimov, I was down 0/40 at 4-4 in the third set and I somehow got through that match; against Klahn in the first round I was down 7-6, 3-1 and in the second round I was down a match point as well against Harris. It’s been a rollercoaster, but I played more aggressive in the quarter-finals and semi-finals. I don’t know how many match points I saved today.
“I haven’t won a title since Bogota in 2015. At 6/3 [in the tie-break] he struck a double fault, then the court began to get slippery. We both agreed to keep playing, but during my matches in qualifying and the first round it was slippery, so I began to stand ready for the return differently. It enabled me to return on the 6/4 point, then I got a lucky net cord winner on the next point.
“For me to win here is huge, one of the biggest [ATP World Tour] 250 tournaments in the world and it means that I’ll rise back up the ATP Rankings.”
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In a competitive start, Tomic, who was competing in his first final since February 2016 (Acapulco), recovered from 15/40 in his first service game. Fognini then let slip a 30/0 lead in his first service game, which ended with a double fault and soon failed to convert four break point chances in Tomic’s next service game. Three consecutive errors from Fognini handed Tomic a 5-1 advantage, prior to Tomic completing the 29-minute opener with his fifth ace of the match.
Tomic continued to dictate early in the second set, playing at his own pace, but persistence paid off for Fognini, who took a 3-1 lead when his opponent struck a sliced backhand wide down the line. While Fognini’s advantage was short lived, much to the Italian’s frustration, he did capitalise on a backhand error from Tomic to break for 5-3 and later saved two break points when serving for the set.
A loose game from Tomic handed Fognini the first game of the decider, but the Australian bounced back and took a 3-1 lead. Fognini recovered to 3-3, with four breaks of serve in the first five games, and later showcased tremendous feel to take control of the tie-break by opening up a 5/2 lead. Fognini saw four match points go begging at 6/3 and 7/6, before Tomic capitalised on a forehand error from Fognini for his first match point at 8/7. Tomic finished the match with a forehand winner.
"It was my time to be unlucky today," said Fognini. "I've had a great run this year. It was a great week, but for sure I'm sad I lost the final after I had four match points. Well done to him. I fought until the end."
With a 40-19 record in 2018, 31-year-old Fognini has won trophies at the Brasil Open in Sao Paulo (d. Jarry), the SkiStar Swedish Open in Bastad (d. Gasquet) and a first on hard courts at the Abierto de Tenis Mifel presentado por Cinemex in Los Cabos (d. Del Potro).
He leaves the city of Chengdu with $100,535 and 150 points. The Italian is currently in 11th position in the ATP Race To London – but is 1,405 points behind eighth-placed Kevin Anderson – for one of eight spots at the Nitto ATP Finals, to be held at The O2 in London from 11-18 November.