Leonardo Mayer makes it two for two in Hamburg finals

Tournament: ATP 500- German Open Tennis Championships, Hamburg

Winner: Leonardo Mayer

Runner-up: Florian Mayer

The German Open Tennis Championships in Hamburg has diminished in importance in recent years as a result of its demotion from a Masters series tournament to an ATP 500 event in 2009. While the tournament attracts less attention now than it used to, Hamburg produces as many memorable matches each year as any of the most famed ATP 500 events on the tour. There was no shortage of entertainment in this year’s edition, the 111th overall.

33-year-old Florian Mayer ambled into the final after the injured Philip Kolschreiber forced an uncomfortably abrupt end to the all-German semi-final at 2-3 down in the second set. Leonardo Mayer reached his first final in over two years with a hard-fought 6-3, 7-5 victory over fellow Argentine Federico Delbonis. Before the third ‘clash of the Mayers’, the head-to-head between the two was deadlocked at one all, though none of their previous meetings had been contested on clay.

Leonardo started the brighter of the two Mayers, breaking his opponent in the sixth game to take a 4-2 lead. His ascendancy was to be short lived, however, as the home favourite roared back to break the 2014 Hamburg champion’s serve to love. The 30-year-old Argentine then held and with the score now at 5-4, Florian Mayer faltered on serve once more to concede the first set.

Florian played some devilishly crafty tennis throughout the week, exploring the full range of shots in the tennis playbook (insofar as that exists) and inventing shots on the fly that not many others would dream of attempting (jumping dropshots, anyone?). It matters little to him what the score is; no shot is off limits. His no-holds-barred approach came in useful in the second set, as Leonardo would most likely have had an easier time wearing out a more predictable opponent.

The elder Mayer employed high percentage one-two combinations on serve when the situation called for it at 2-3, but at other times his shot selection completely threw Leonardo off. After a jostle for supremacy in the middle of the set, he broke Leonardo’s serve for the second time in the match at 4-4 and served out the next game to draw level in sets.

In the decider, Florian began to flag mentally and physically after failing to break Leonardo at 2-2. He blinked first when serving 3-4 down, hitting a backhand inches beyond the baseline to hand Leonardo the opportunity to serve for a second Hamburg crown. Leonardo did what was asked of him, closing out the third set 6-3 and, by extension, a match that finished just shy of 2 hours.

Leonardo Mayer reassumed a spot in the top 50 with this title-winning run, creeping in at No.49. €323,145 in prize money is also a nice bonus for a man who entered the draw as a lucky loser, though there was nothing opportunistic about the way he went about his business over the course of the week. The outpouring of emotion toward his adoring wife and son during the trophy ceremony proved as much; Mayer has earned every ounce of his success through sweat equity.

 

Tournament: ATP 250- Swiss Open, Gstaad

Winner: Fabio Fognini

Runner-up: Yannick Hanfmann

Fabio Fognini joined the 2017 winner’s circle by beating Yannick Hanfmann to claim a first Swiss Open trophy of his career. Fognini’s level has been solid, if unspectacular this year. Fortunately for him, he summoned his best tennis when he needed it against the robust competition he faced in his four Swiss Open matches.

In fact, both Fognini and Hanfmann faced a tough route to the final, the latter particularly so because he had to play two qualifying rounds prior to entering the main draw. The most demanding examinations of his ability were posed by Facundo Bagnis, Feliciano Lopez and Robin Haase; he passed them all in three sets. Italian No.1 Fognini required 3 sets to beat Norbert Gombos, Ernests Gulbis and Roberto Bautista Agut, but only needed two to halt Hanfmann dead in his tracks.

In the early stages, Fognini frustrated Hanfmann with his machine-like consistency from the baseline. He took a commanding 5-2 lead in the first set, then was broken in his first attempt to serve it out. Hanfmann held serve at 3-5, although he was powerless to prevent Fognini from doing the same one game later. Winning the first set 6-4 enabled Fognini to relax, as he used his superior clay court movement and counterpunching skills to prevent Hanfmann from gaining the upper hand in the lengthier exchanges.

Hanfmann competed as valiantly in the second set as he did in the first, but he failed to make inroads into Fognini’s service games. He planned on hitting through Fognini, which didn’t happen often because he was just too inconsistent with the placement of his shots. The set went with serve until Haffman choked a 40-15 lead at 5-5. Fognini broke serve with a gem of a backhand pass and held his nerve in his next service game. 6-4, 7-5 is a scoreline that accurately portrays the story of this match, which was markedly easier for Fognini than those which preceded it.

This was a great week for Hanfmann, a player who is making a strong push to break into the top 100. His current ranking is a career best of No.125. Despite being 25 years of age, the German is relatively experienced at tour level, having taken a while to find his feet after wrapping up his college tennis career. Exciting times lie ahead for him if he continues to show such promise, and I can’t be alone in wanting to see more of him in the future.

 

Tournament: ATP 250- BB&T Atlanta Open

Winner: John Isner

Runner-up: Ryan Harrison

John Isner carried on his summer hot streak in Atlanta, where he prevailed over Ryan Harrison in two close tie-break sets. The first set could even have gone Harrison’s way had he taken more risks on return after recovering from a 2-4 deficit in the tiebreak. Isner won the first set breaker 8-6; though, soon after he found himself a set to the good, Harrison worked a mini-miracle. He was the first man in 75 service games to be able to break Isner, a feat which put him 2-0 up in the second. Harrison was unable to press home the advantage however, and Isner broke straight back.

The rest of the set was a stalemate up until the tiebreak. As usual, Isner upped the ante on serve when he sensed a threat, this time thumping down a pair of 137-mph aces when behind 6-7. Harrison just couldn’t do enough to disrupt Isner’s service rhythm, and lost the 16-point tiebreak when he failed to retrieve a shot that landed in his backhand corner.

This was Isner’s fourth title in Atlanta and the 12th in his career to date. His service hold streak may have been snapped in this match, but his eight-match winning streak remains intact. Now world No.18, Isner will be seeded ninth at the Citi Open in Washington DC this week; he will need his wits about him if he is to reach a fourth final at the event or go all the way.

Which final did you enjoy the most? Any predictions for the tournaments next week? Leave a comment below if you have any thoughts to share.