Since last week, a few career firsts have been reached, and two of them were pretty uncommon, as they happened to veterans.
A first career title at 36
The name of Frank Moser must not be known to many, as he almost exclusively plays doubles and has had mitigated success, except for the three finals he contested: Los Angeles back in 2009 (with Benjamin Becker), Atlanta in 2011 (with Matthias Bachinger), and San Jose last year (with Kevin Anderson).
Last week, in San Jose, the German was teaming up with defending champion Xavier Malisse (who had won the honours last year with Mark Knowles).
Malisse and Moser made it all the way to the finals, where they faced Australians Lleyton Hewitt and Marinko Matosevic.
It appeared like it would be a quite straightforward thing for Malisse and Moser, who quickly were up 6-0 4-0. However, they were facing Lleyton Hewitt, one who just never calls it quits. Rusty and Matosevic came back, and took the second set in a tiebreak.
The championship, the last in the history of the tournament as far as doubles were concerned (Milos Raonic won the last singles title a few hours later), was to be decided in the match tiebreak.
In the end, Xavier Malisse and Frank Moser prevailed, 6-0 6-7(5) 10-4, and Moser finally got his hands on an ATP winners’ trophy, at the age of 36.
It is never too late to win a first title and Moser is the living proof of it.
Many firsts in one week
Another veteran tasted the joy of career firsts last week, this time on the (very bad) clay of São Paulo, and in the most unexpected way.
When he lost in three long sets to Jorge Aguilar in the last round of qualifying, little did Martín Alund know that he would be back on the court just a couple of hours afterwards.
In as a lucky loser to replace his countryman Leonardo Mayer, who pulled out due to a back injury, Alund faced local Ricardo Mello, who was playing his last tournament. Alund won quite comfortably, 6-4 6-4, thus signing his first career ATP Tour win, he who has been mostly playing Challenger Tour events until recently.
The 27-year-old from Mendoza did not stop there. He then defeated Jérémy Chardy for his first top 30 win, and reached his first semi-final when he topped Filippo Volandri, in two tight sets.
The veteran Argentine’s dream week ended against Rafael Nadal, to whom he still managed to take a set, and made him enter the top 100 for the first time in his career.
In Buenos Aires, Alund will face qualifier Julian Reister in the first round.
A happy first for a youngster
This Monday, Buenos Aires was the stage of another first ATP Tour win, this time for local Diego Schwartzman.
Benefiting from a wild card into the tournament, the 20-year-old had a difficult, but winnable first round despite the 128 places that separated him from his rival, no 4 seed Thomaz Bellucci, who has had more downs than ups lately.
Schwartzman took advantage of the only break point Bellucci conceded him and saved two of his own to take the first set 6-4.
The second set was just as tight but went Bellucci’s way, who forced a decisive third, in which he completely collapsed, enabling El Peque to win his first ATP Tour main draw match, 6-4 4-6 6-1, to the great joy of his family and friends, who were present to encourage him, as always.
This first ATP triumph does not come out of nowhere for Schwartzman, who worked a lot with Juan Mónaco in the off-season, and also served as practice partner to the Argentine Davis Cup team for the last couple of ties.
Schwartzman did a lot of work on his serve, and it showed today, as he finshed with 65% of first serves, and saved seven of the nine break points he faced.
Happy as a loon after the match, he talked at length about how good he feels playing at home, how comfortable he feels on the courts of Buenos Aires. He even made jokes about his size (5’7″) and explained that he will never be the player to hit two aces per game.
All in all, Diego Schwartzman was true to his reputation: hard-fighting on court, very nice and funny off it. Today’s first could not have happened to a better guy.