Garin Avoids Déjà Vu, Finishes Off Coric To Reach Rio Final

Chilean to face qualifier Mager later Sunday for the title

Chilean Cristian Garin won a personal-best eighth consecutive match on Sunday afternoon, finishing off a 6-4, 7-5 win against fifth seed Borna Coric to reach the final of the Rio Open presented by Claro.

The third seed slept on a 6-4, 4-4 advantage, with rain suspending play. Garin wasted little time completing his victory, needing just four games on Sunday to reach his fifth ATP Tour final (3-1). All five of the 23-year-old’s tour-level championship matches have come in the past year.

Garin faced a break point in the first game of the resumption, but he was able to maintain his poise and advance after one hour and 44 minutes.

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The Chilean may have experienced déjà vu. Last year at the Libema Open, Coric saved one match point before defeating Garin in their only previous ATP Head2Head meeting. In Rio de Janeiro, serving at 5-6, Coric saved match point when he hit a big serve out wide and followed it up with a big forehand swinging volley into the open court. Garin got to the ball in time, but missed his forehand passing shot down the line wide by a couple of feet.

Garin remained undeterred, though. He earned his first victory against the Croatian when Coric missed a forehand into the net.

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The recent Cordoba Open champion will face Italian qualifier Gianluca Mager in the final.

Mager, who owned only two tour-level wins entering the week, battled from a break down in the decider to defeat Hungarian lucky loser Attila Balazs 7-6(4), 4-6, 7-6(2) in two hours and 52 minutes. Ironically, Mager also beat Balazs in the final round of qualifying. The Italian won that match 6-0, 6-2 in just 54 minutes.

The three-time ATP Challenger Tour champion reached a career-high of World No. 114 in the FedEx ATP Rankings this January. But with his performance in Rio de Janeiro, he is projected to soar into the Top 80 on Monday, and even further if he lifts the trophy.

Mager, who saved eight of the 12 break points he faced against Balazs, will try to become the first qualifier to win an ATP Tour title since Daniil Medvedev emerged victorious in Tokyo two years ago. The past nine qualifiers to reach a tour-level final have lost in the championship match.

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