GOFFIN BACK IN TITLE TOWN, BENCIC WINS IN CHARLESTON

Former world no. 7, David Goffin won the sixth title of his career, defeating Alex Molcan 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 in the final of the Marrakech Open in Morocco.

Earlier in the tournament, Goffin reached a significant career milestone, winning his 300th match on the ATP Tour.

The Belgian hopes the sixth title of his career will provide him with the confidence he needs for the clay-court season.

“I’m very happy, proud of my week. It was not easy, a lot of tough matches,” Goffin said. “But at the end, I have my sixth title, here in Marrakesh. It gives me a lot of happiness and confidence for the season of clay.

The one-time Nitto ATP Finals runner-up had to prematurely end his 2021 season due to a left knee injury and had a slow start to the year before arriving in Morocco, with a 6-9 record.

After disappointing early exits at both Indian Wells and Miami, Goffin’s victory sees his ranking climb to 47 in the world.

Goffin will not have too much time to celebrate his hard-fought victory as he is scheduled to kick off his Monte-Carlo Masters campaign tomorrow against Jiri Lehecka.

Houston


Reilly Opelka overcame fellow big-serving American John Isner 6-3, 7-6(7) to win his first clay-court title at the U.S. Men’s Tennis Clay Court Championship.


The win was the American’s fourth title of his career and remarkably they’ve all been on home soil in America.

The final between the 211cm Opelka and the 208cm Isner was the tallest final in the history of the ATP Tour.

Post-match, Opelka was full of praise for his opponent, praising him for his service to American tennis and being a role model for the next generation of players.

"He was my idol growing up as a kid, and before I even met him, I liked him. But since we've become such good friend and spent so much time on Tour, I like him even more now," 24-year-old Opelka said of 36-year-old Isner during the trophy ceremony.

"He's been an unbelievable role model for not just myself, (but) Taylor Fritz, Frances Tiafoe and Tommy Paul.”

Opelka’s triumph in Houston sees him rise to world no. 17 in the ATP rankings, 4 places behind the top-ranked American male player, Taylor Fritz.

The win will provide Opelka with much-needed confidence for the remainder of the clay season as this was his ATP tour title on clay.


Dual Tokyo medallist Belinda Bencic has survived an inspired comeback attempt from Ons Jabeur on Sunday to claim the WTA 500 Charleston Open.

In what was her first clay-court final, Bencic ultimately found a way in a final set full of momentum swings to come away with a 6-1, 5-7, 6-4 victory in two hours and 35 minutes.

"Super proud to win the first title on clay," Bencic said post-match. "I think it was a week where I was fighting. I was two points away from the exit in the first round, and I feel like this is how you win the tournament.”

The Swiss’ run to the championship included two top 10 scalps in Jabeur and World No. 3 Paula Badosa who she bested in the quarterfinals after the Spaniard squandered two break point opportunities to serve for the match.

Moments that mattered

The 10th seeded Bencic was completely dominant in the opening set of the match, winning over 90 per cent of points on first serve on her way to the perfect start at 6-1.

It all looked to be slipping away from Jabeur when she was broken in the opening game of the second, but the Tunisian quickly regrouped for her first break of the match.

The set and match would now go up a level with both players exhibiting the high-quality shot-making that had seen them make such deep runs at the South Carolina event.

Bencic had two chances to break for a 6-5 lead, but Jabeurwas able to fend off the challenge and hold serve before turning the tables on her opponent with a powerful forehand winner for the set.

The final set was a back-and-forth battle that featured four breaks of serve – two to each player – before the decisive move ahead came from Bencic for a 4-3 advantage.

The Swiss missed one opportunity to claim the title on the serve of Jabeur at 5-3 but came through in the very next game without dropping a point.


Bencic’s 6th WTA title will see her rise from her current position of World No.21 to No.13 in the updated WTA rankings. Runner-up Jabeur will be installed at World No. 9from Monday.

The Miracle Run of Tatjana Maria

Mother-of-two Tatjana Maria’s fairy-tale run in Bogota has received a storybook ending after she claimed the second WTA title of her career on Sunday.

Maria, who troubled her opponents throughout the week with her ability to slice the ball off both wings, proved too tough for her Brazilian opponent Laura Pigossi with a 6-3, 4-6, 6-2 win in two hours and 30 minutes.

The all-qualifier final between World No. 237 Maria and World No. 212 Pigossi was the first-ever WTA final that featured two players both ranked outside the top 200.

Now 21-7 on the season, Maria becomes the lowest-ranked WTA titleholder since World No. 299 Margarita Gasparyan’s victory in Taskkent in 2018.


Moments that mattered


The defensive play of Maria and Pigossi on the Bogota clay saw both players separate themselves from the rest of the field throughout the week.

The German utilises a slice-heavy game that often pins her opponents deep in the court while Pigossi relies on her topspin to keep her alive in rallies.

Pigossi was certainly the aggressor for the most part with the Brazilian totalling 23 winners to Maria’s 19, but that aggression could only get her so far up against such a rock-solid slice.

Maria’s ability to defend and dictate off both forehand and backhand wings proved essential in her victory – she limited herself to 13 unforced errors while Pigossi had more than double that at 30.

However, it was the serve of the German that was the clear barometer in this one. Maria won 78 per cent of her first serve across the match but struggled in the second when she was only just better than 50 per cent on the same stat.

Maria recaptured her dominance on serve in the final set and she emerged victorious on the back of some exquisite drop shots and touch volleys to run away with six of the last seven games.

The German’s run from qualifying to champion will see her ranking improve 122 places to World No. 115. 27-year-old Pigossi will rise to a career high World No. 126.