Pella Wins First ATP Tour Title In Sao Paulo
The fifth time was the charm for Guido Pella.
While the Argentine fell short in his first four ATP Tour finals, he won his maiden trophy on Sunday. Pella defeated Chilean Christian Garin 7-5, 6-3 to triumph at the Brasil Open. On his first championship point, the left-hander laced a forehand down the line for a winner and fell to his knees in celebration.
"I couldn't believe it. That forehand usually, on this surface, doesn't go in because of the altitude. I hit it not so clean," Pella said. "But today was my day, it was in and I couldn't believe it. After five finals, it was time that I won the match. I didn't know what to say, what to think. It was a very emotional moment for me. I'm not used to crying a lot and today was unbelievable."
Pella did not drop a set in the tournament, finishing off his dream week with a one-hour, 23-minute victory in the championship match. Pella could have shown nerves after he broke Garin in the second set to move into prime position to finish off his win. After all, the 28-year-old held a set-and-a-break lead in the Cordoba Open final last month before ultimately losing to Juan Ignacio Londero.
"After Cordoba I was devastated because I lost that final," Pella said. "I was playing very good there and after the second set I couldn't play anymore. It was very tough weeks after Cordoba."
But this time, after saving break point in the second set (at 2-1), Pella never looked back. He landed 81 per cent of his first serves in the second set and lost just three of those points to help him close out the match. With the title and the 250 ATP Ranking points he gains from his efforts, Pella will climb to a career-best World No. 34 on Monday. The Argentine also leaves Brazil with $94,830 in prize money.
The difference in the match was Pella's consistency in the big moments. While he did not dominate Garin from the baseline and control play throughout, Pella played his best tennis on break points — both for and against him. The third seed saved six of the seven break points he faced, while converting four of his seven opportunities.
"I was very nervous at the beginning," Pella said. "I knew that he was going to be a little bit stiff at the beginning, but I think after that he started to serve very good... my confidence went up [after serving out the first set] and it was a very good game for me after that."
Pella finishes his 'Golden Swing' at 11-3, as he was a finalist in Cordoba and a semi-finalist at the Argentina Open. On Saturday, Pella battled past Rio de Janeiro champion Laslo Djere in two tie-breaks to put himself in position to defeat Garin.
While Garin could not lift his first ATP Tour title in his maiden final at this level, it was a confidence-building week for the Chilean. Before February, he had not won a match at an ATP Tour event since Santiago in 2013. But he earned a victory at both the Argentina Open and the Rio Open presented by Claro, and now has experienced his first championship match at tour-level. Nicolas Jarry, another Chilean, reached his first tour-level final in Sao Paulo last year (l. to Fognini).
Garin departs Sao Paulo with 150 ATP Ranking points, which will catapult him to a new career-high inside the Top 75. The 22-year-old also earns $51,280.
Did You Know?
Pella is the seventh first-time ATP Tour champion so far this season. Alex de Minaur (Sydney), Tennys Sandgren (Auckland), Juan Ignacio Londero (Cordoba), Reilly Opelka (New York), Laslo Djere (Rio de Janeiro) and Radu Albot (Delray Beach) also lifted their maiden trophies earlier this season.