That Almost Never Happens

Anderson d. Devvarman, 4/6 6/3 6/2

Dodig d. Berrer, 6/3 6/4

Kevin Anderson won his maiden ATP title in his home country this week, which is something that almost never happens. Indeed, in the entire history of this week, it has only happened twice, the other time being Ivan Dodig in Zagreb. You could say they were unprepared for the achievement, but both have clearly leafed through the relevant chapter in the ATP Media Relations Handbook (7th Edition): ‘This is the best thing that can happen to a player – to play at home in front of your own crowd and win your first title. I’m really happy and enjoying the moment. It’s been amazing all week; it’s an unbelievable experience. I didn’t have any pressure, I just tried to concentrate on my tennis and play point by point until the last point.’ Blandness of this calibre cuts through cultural differences, to the extent that I challenge anyone to guess which player actually said it. If you need a clue, it wasn’t the one promising to donate part of his winnings to the Save The Rhino campaign.

Dodig is the third Croatian to claim the Zagreb event in as many years, the others being Marin Cilic and Marin Cilic. Anderson is the first South African to win Johannesburg, and will probably remain the last person to win it ever. The SA Tennis Open’s contract is unlikely to be renewed next year, owing to its low profile, poor field, and the ATP’s determination to slim down the calendar.

Robredo d. Giraldo, 6/2 2/6 7/6

Meanwhile, over in Santiago, Tommy Robredo has taken his title haul to double figures, awakening from 3/5 down in final set to deflower final-virgin Santiago Giraldo. Had Girlado studied his Handbook a little closer, particularly the bit about playing ‘point by point until the last point’, we might have had three first time titlists this week. Really, it’s what weeks like this are for. Arguably the most interesting thing to happen in Santiago this week was Robredo’s openly antagonistic semifinal against Fabio Fognini, which ended with the Spaniard repeatedly refusing to shake hands, and Fognini loudly declaring him to be a ‘Pedazo de Mierda’. It was the kind of scene usually reserved for a Daniel Koellerer match, and the best part is that they’re drawn to meet in the first round of the Costa do Sauipe tournament next week.

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