Francisco Cerundolo overcomes Sebastian Baez for first title at Bastad | ATP tour

Francisco Cerundolo capped off an impressive week at the Nordea Open in Bastad with a high-quality straight-sets victory over compatriot Sebastian Baez on Sunday to win his first ATP Tour title.

Both players had featured plenty of clean base hits en route to this week’s final in Sweden, but it was Cerundolo who raised his level at key moments to secure a 7-6(4), 6-2 triumph in championship match at the ATP 250. an event.

Cerundolo’s encounter with eighth-seeded Baez was his second ATP Tour final, having won just three matches against fellow Argentine Diego Schwartzman in his hometown of Buenos Aires in 2021. Cerundolo banned those reminiscing in style on Sunday in Sweden as he recovered from dropping serve in the opener of the game to seal his fourth win in five sets this week.

“It’s amazing,” Cerundolo said at the awards ceremony. “First of all I want to congratulate Sebastian, not just for this week. You have been playing amazing since last year.

“[Winning the title] means a lot. Ever since you were a child, you imagined yourself playing in these events and finals. When I lost in Buenos Aires I was sad, because I was at home and I lost badly, but I learned a lot from that. I used it today, and I think I played a great game, a great week.

The win marks another milestone in a breakthrough season for Cerundolo. The 23-year-old cracked the Pepperstone ATP Top 100 for the first time in February after advancing to the quarter-finals in Buenos Aires and the semi-finals in Rio de Janeiro, before reaching a first ATP Masters 1000 semi-final. final in Miami in March.

His victory over Baez should propel Cerundolo into the Top 30 of the Pepperstone ATP rankings for the first time on Monday. The Argentinian upset Casper Ruud in straight sets for his first Top 10 second-round victory in Bastad, while he also beat Pedro Sousa, Aslan Karatsev and Pablo Carreno Busta to set up a final showdown with Baez.

After an early exchange of breaks in the pair’s first ATP Head2Head meeting, a marathon 11th match proved decisive for the outcome of the first set in Bastad. Baez, 21,’s aggressive approach earned him six break points, but Cerundolo held on. He then opened up a 4/0 lead in the opening set tie-break, before clinching an intriguing 74-minute set after Baez double faulted.

The momentum was with Cerundolo and he continued to dictate play with his huge forehand as Baez struggled to regain his footing in the game. Cerundolo broke twice in the second set, staying solid behind serve before dropping to the floor in ecstasy after claiming victory in an hour and 49 minutes.

Cerundolo’s ability to maintain composure under pressure on serve proved essential to his victory. The 23-year-old saved nine of the 10 break points he faced, while converting three of his 11 break chances.

“I think Francisco was better than me today, so congratulations to him and his team as well,” said Baez, who won his first tour-level trophy at Estoril in May. “Tennis is part of life and I think we have to enjoy it when we lose and when we win. The little things, we have to enjoy it every time, so I enjoyed this week and I hope the week next will be better.”

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