The final of Intrum Stockholm Open 2018 offered a titanic battle between World no.16 Stefanos Tsitsipas’ one-hand backhand and World no.145 Ernests Gulbis’ powerful forehand. The net was Tsitsipas ally in the dramatic and decisive moments.
#NextGenATP Stefanos Tsitsipas started the first game of the set by serving first. At 40-40, the Latvian qualifier Gulbis had a chance for an early break, but his forehand shot hit the net cord. Shortly afterwards, the Greek took his first game. A great rally with Gulbis’ forehand and Tsitsipas’ one-hand backhand entertained the crowd. Levelled at 2-2, the Greek impressed with a fabulous over-head smash, followed by a backhand down the line winner. Gulbis responded with a well-composed offensive baseline play. Both players held on their respective games, with the Latvian displaying some attractive tennis with overhead smash shots and unreturnable forehand winners. The suspense escalated at 4-5, when Gulbis, serving to stay in the set, started having trouble with his first serve. An elegant volley was unluckily called out for him at 40-15. Minutes later, Tsitsipas cruised and closed the first set at 6-4.
Brimming with confidence, Tsitsipas opened the second set. The third game lent itself to some extraordinary hitting from both players. Tsitsipas looking to break early on, came close but the Latvian held an important service game. Some great rallies and a smart disguised drop-volley later, the Latvian levelled the second set 3-3. Determined to level at 4-4, Gulbis played a solid aggressive game despite Tsitsipas forcing a deuce. Both men showed their offensive play with lengthy rallies and fast serving. Serving to stay in the match, Gulbis opened proceedings with two errors, helping Tsitsipas reach 0-30 fairly fast. Next an easy volley was hit into the net, and that brought up match point for the young Greek in just 1 hour and 20minutes. Next point Gulbis gifted Tsitsipas by hitting a volley into the net.
This is Stafanos Tsitsipas’ first final victory this year having lost the first two to World no.1 Rafeal Nadal. He has been loved in Swedish capital, and teh croud hopes he returns again next year.