Sonego Saves Championship Point, Captures Maiden Title In Antalya
Italian owns 14-12 tour-level record this season
Lorenzo Sonego entered the Turkish Airlines Open Antalya searching for confidence and a first grass-court victory. But the Italian produced an inspired week in Turkey, recovering from championship point down on Saturday to beat Miomir Kecmanovic 6-7(5), 7-6(5), 6-1 and lift his first ATP Tour title.
The 24-year-old saved a championship point with a powerful first serve at 6-7(5), 4-5, 30/40 before claiming the tie-break and dominating the decider to lift the ATP 250 trophy. The Italian arrived in Antalya riding a six-match tour-level losing streak, dating back to his breakthrough run to the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters quarter-finals in April.
Sonego defeated back-to-back seeded players to reach the final, overcoming Libema Open titlist Adrian Mannarino in the last eight before a straight-sets victory against fourth seed Pablo Carreno Busta. The World No. 75 was forced to finish his semi-final encounter against Carreno Busta earlier Saturday after rain suspended play Friday evening.
"It is the first title and I am so happy for my family, for my coach, for all the people who support me," said Sonego. "I like, so much, playing on the grass, it was fun and now I am ready for Wimbledon. It is a good chance for me because I have a good feeling now and I [will] try to do the best [I can]."
With both men battling to seize control of rallies with powerful hitting from the baseline in early exchanges, Kecmanovic increased his aggression to save three set points at 4-5 with strong serving and bravery behind his groundstrokes.
After saving a fourth set point to reach a tie-break, the 19-year-old Serbian moved up the court to take time away from his opponent and shorten points to earn an early advantage. The World No. 82, competing at his career-high ATP Ranking this week, claimed the opening set with great defensive skill from behind the baseline as Sonego flicked a drop shot into the tramline.
With no break points on offer through the first nine games of the second set, Kecmanovic earned a first championship point after a strong forehand return. But, as his opponent had in the first set, Sonego rose to the challenge under extreme pressure. The Italian avoided defeat with a powerful first serve into his opponent's forehand, before holding serve and eventually taking the match to a tie-break.
After firing a forehand winner up the line to end a bruising baseline rally, Sonego was handed a 5/3 lead after Kecmanovic fired his seventh double fault of the contest. On his second set point, the Italian moved up the court to force a decider with a backhand volley.
Through 1-1 in the decider, Kecmanovic had lost just one of 61 service games throughout the week. But Sonego dropped just three points in the next five games, securing back-to-back service breaks before sealing the victory with a cross-court forehand winner.
Kecmanovic was also aiming to lift his first tour-level trophy in his maiden ATP Tour championship match. With a win, the 19-year-old would have become the youngest ATP Tour titlist since Andrey Rublev captured the Plava Laguna Croatia Open Umag trophy in 2017.
"Thank you to everybody who came out to support us," said Kecmanovic. "It was amazing to play in front of you... Thank you to my coach and physio, I hope to be back next year."
Sonego receives 250 ATP Ranking points and collects €76,840 in prize money. Kecmanovic gains 150 ATP Ranking points and receives €41,540.