Lajovic Lifts Maiden Trophy In Umag
Serbian dropped one set throughout the week
The fourth-seeded Serbian claimed his maiden ATP Tour title after rallying from 3-5 down in the opening set to defeat qualifier Attila Balazs 7-5, 7-5. Lajovic dropped one set en route to the title, making further progress in a year of improvement on the ATP Tour.
“It was a match that I’ll remember for the rest of my career,” said Lajovic. “I couldn’t be happier that I won. I had to work for every point, so I’m tired now, but also relieved to have to won my first title.”
In April, Lajovic became the second player since 2013 to reach his first tour-level final at an ATP Masters 1000 event. The Serbian did not drop a set en route to the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters championship match before falling to Fabio Fognini. Eight days later, Lajovic reached a career-high No. 23 in the ATP Rankings.
Lajovic improves to 17-16 at tour-level this year and 7-5 at the ATP 250 event following his one-hour, 50-minute victory. The 29-year-old broke serve on four occasions, winning 44 per cent of return points (36/82).
It was Balazs who made the first move in the opening set at 3-3, taking control of points with depth on his returns to break. But Lajovic soon raised his level at the perfect time, bringing his forehand into play on his third break point of the match to reach 5-5. Lajovic repeated the strategy two games later to convert his third set point, moving around his backhand to rip a cross-court forehand return.
Lajovic rode the momentum into the second set, playing with great court coverage to earn his second break point of the fourth game. The World No. 36 played with consistency before driving a backhand to the laces of his opponent to move into a 3-1 lead.
Two games away from the title at 4-2, Lajovic surrendered his serve as Balazs increased his aggression on his forehand. But Lajovic soon refocused, breaking serve at 6-5 on his first championship point, before collapsing to the clay in celebration.
Balazs was aiming to become the first qualifier to capture an ATP Tour trophy this season. Five years after retiring from the sport, the Hungarian was contesting his first tour-level final. His previous best mark at an ATP Tour event came in 2012, when he reached the Bucharest semi-finals (l. to Fognini).
“I was ready for him to play at a high level. He was very fresh and motivated, so I knew he was going to play his best,” said Balazs. “I also tried my best, but he was better today.”
Lajovic receives 250 ATP Ranking points and €90,390 in prize money. Balazs earns 150 ATP Ranking points and €48,870.