Today’s German Open Tennis Championship final in Hamburg featured the last week’s Stuttgart winner Fabio Fognini of Italy, seed number twelve, and a surprise finalist Federico Delbonis of Argentina who took Roger Federer’s scalp the day before. He was on a brink of another huge success, yet his Italian adversary turned around the clash in a spectacular fashion to conquer the ATP World Tour 500 tournament.
Unseeded Delbonis went 0-40 down at 2-2 in the opening set, but made it to a deuce and saved another couple of break points before holding the service game. The 26-year-old Italian was made to rue his missed chances in the tenth game when he was serving to stay in the set – the efficient Argentine took advantage of his rival’s error to wrap up the opener with the first set ball.
The set number two would be a real rollercoaster ride. Fognini seized a break straight away, yet he faced a 30-40 result in the following game and was issued a time violation warning as he was changing rackets due to a broken string. The Italian thought the decision was harsh and it influenced his game – he let 22-year-old Delbonis level the terms by completely mishitting his next forehand before getting broken to love straight after that. The Argentine confirmed the break and it seemed like he would cruise to a victory against irritated Fognini who was now trying his luck with some speculative shots. His versatility eventually paid off as he unexpectedly broke back in the seventh game and completed his three straight games run next to make it 4-4. The following service games were held convincingly and we were in for a nerve-shredding tie-break. World no. 114 Delbonis – who was extremely consistent up to that point – produced the first championship point one hour and forty-two minutes into the match, but netted a rather easy volley before squandering two more chances to finish off the resilient Italian – the latter then gladly converted his set point number one to square things up and set the stage for a miraculous comeback.
The Italian was in a huge psychological advantage in the decider and broke his rival a couple of times by 5-1. A glimpse of hope emerged for unlucky Delbonis as he pegged one break back, but there were too many mistakes creeping into his game at that point and Fognini managed to close out the match on his opponent’s serve after slightly less than two hours and a half of tennis. He lifted the Hamburg 2013 trophy – handed over by the tournament manager, former German champion Michael Stich – by claiming a 4-6, 7-6 (8), 6-2 final victory.
Fognini was happy about clinching his second trophy in as many weeks, yet he was aware of the fact that his display was not perfect: “I was I think a little bit lucky. I was nervous. Today, I didn’t play really good, but I fought hard. I think that was the key. Another trophy, that’s the important thing. I want to enjoy as soon as possible and fly to Umag tomorrow and have another chance to play.”
The runner-up had mixed feelings about his week in Hamburg: “To lose the final with match points is disappointing,” Delbonis said. “But at the end of the week, the result of all the week is positive or me. It’s my first final. I beat Roger [Federer] yesterday [in the semi-finals].”