Pablo Cuevas picked the most unorthodox way to win an unconventional final on Monday at the Brasil Open in Sao Paulo. About to deliver a second serve on his fourth match point, the Uruguayan dipped down and tapped an underhand serve to Spaniard Albert Ramos-Vinolas, who rushed to the service box and successfully returned the surprise tactic.
But Cuevas eventually won the point and made tournament history in Sao Paulo with his 6-7(3), 6-4, 6-4 win. The 31 year old became the first player since the tournament began in 2001 to win three consecutive Brasil Open titles. Spaniard Nicolas Almagro has won the tournament three times but only two of his titles were successive.
“I was making a lot of double faults,” said Cuevas, who finished with 12 double faults. “When I prepared to hit that second serve, there was a big chance that I would hit a double fault. So I thought about the possibility of the underarm serve and that it was something I probably shouldn’t do. But I also should not do another double fault. So I just stopped thinking and I did it.”
Cuevas celebrates his sixth career ATP World Tour title with his third consecutive Sao Paulo crown. All of the right-hander’s titles have come on clay and since 2014.
“It was very different from previous years. I wasn’t playing really well in the start… I had to turn a few matches around, in the quarter-finals too, and the match stopped yesterday when I was one set down. But I was strong enough to turn it around and win a third title here,” Cuevas said.
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To think, on Sunday, Ramos-Vinolas had been only three games away from clutching his second ATP World Tour title. The left-hander led 7-6(4), 3-3, and was serving at 40/40 for a 4-3 lead. But rain delayed play until Monday evening, and Cuevas was the better player when play resumed.
He won the first two points of the renewed action to break and later took the second set. In the decider, Cuevas saved all three break points to improve to 6-3 in ATP World Tour finals. He leaves Sao Paulo with 250 Emirates ATP Rankings points and $81,220 in prize money.
Ramos-Vinolas, who won his first title last July in Bastad (d. Verdasco), falls to 1-3 in ATP World Tour title matches. He will receive 150 Emirates ATP Rankings points and $42,775 in prize money.
“I just couldn’t keep the same level as yesterday. I had a lot of chances,” said Ramos-Vinolas, who was one for seven on break points. “But it just wasn’t my day.”