Rothesay International Eastbourne 2023: Francisco Cerundolo ousts Tommy Paul to lift maiden grass title
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Francisco Cerundolo breaks new ground as he becomes only the second Argentine player to win a title on grass, after coming out on top against Tommy in the Rothesay International Eastbourne final.
Cerundolo captured the crown after a three-set epic saw him take down second seed Paul 6-4, 1-6, 6-4.
This victory marks a more significant milestone for the world No.19 – who not only lifted a career-first title on the grass but also became the first Argentine to do since 1995.
Despite having only played his first grass court tournament in the summer of 2022, Cerundolo has quickly adapted his game to suit the surface.
Entering the tournament off the back of a second-round appearance at the cinch Championships where he outplayed Paul 7-6(2), 4-6, 6-4 in the opening round before falling to Grigor Dimitrov, the fourth seed battled through an impressive field at Devonshire Park to eventually clinch a first title of the year.
Speaking of achieving his second ATP title on the surface where he possesses the least experience, the 24-year-old said, “I’m super happy. Yesterday I almost lost, I don’t know how I managed to turn it around from 6-4, 4-1.
“Today I played a really good four points this morning (in the semi-final) and I think I played an amazing final, it was super tough and super windy.”
In just their third encounter against each other on the ATP Tour, Cerundolo spoke highly of his opponent, “I want to congratulate Tommy. You’re a great man, a great friend, with your team you’ve been having a great year.
“I hope we can get these matches more often and I wish you all the best in Wimbledon and the rest of the year for you and your team.”
Today’s final showed early signs of nerves, with both players contesting to lift a second career title - but a firing forehand that grazed the edge of the baseline secured the opening set for the fourth seed, who infused 28 winners across the match.
Despite a second set charge from the American who levelled the tie to one set apiece, it was the world No.19 who hunted the crucial breakthrough at 4-3 in the decider before Paul launched a forehand long to seal the championship for Cerundolo who became the second Argentine ever to lift an ATP tour title on the grass.
Having gone from strength-to-strength during the grass season so far, Cerundolo will enter the upcoming Wimbledon Championships with an abundance of confidence in his game as he prepares to take on Nuno Borges in the opening round, while Paul will take on Japan’s Shintaro Mochizuki.
Friday’s men’s doubles final saw Croatian duo Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic complete a hat-trick of Rothesay International Eastbourne titles after ousting last week’s cinch Championships winners Austin Krajicek and Ivan Dodig in the final.
This win marked the Croatian duo’s 17th tour-level title together, and their third of the year as they put an end to the reigning French Open champions 13-match winning streak in a 6-4, 6-2 victory.
The 2023 champions flew through the rounds this week to wrap up the doubles title without dropping a set.
In the championship match, they hung tight to save three break points before grabbing their break point opportunities with two hands to find the three crucial breaks of their own to take the crown.