Gasquet Wins Inaugural Antwerp Title
Richard Gasquet captured the title at the European Open on Sunday, fighting past Diego Schwartzman 7-6(4), 6-1.
Gasquet notched his 14th ATP World Tour title and second of the year, having previously lifted the trophy in Montpellier in February. He needed one hour and 29 minutes to emerge victorious, saving one of two break points faced, while converting three of six of his own. The Frenchman was ruthless on his first serve, claiming 29 of 33 (88 per cent) of such points.
Both players looked to blast through the indoor hard court at the Lotto Arena, unloading from the back of the court. Two scintillating backhand winners by Schwartzman punctuated the start of the match, as the Argentine sought to maintain his momentum after saving two match points over top seed David Goffin in Saturday's semis.
Schwartzman may be short in stature, but his diminutive height is not proportional to his heart. After falling behind an early break, the 24 year old dug in his heels when staring down three set points at 5-4 40/0. He would save them all, reeling off seven consecutive points to break back and consolidate for 6-5. Schwartzman would force a tie-break, where Gasquet's would not be denied a second opportunity to close out the opener.
"It was a tough match, especially in the first set when I was leading 5-4 40/0 on my serve," said Gasquet. "It was important for me to win the tie-break and I took a lot of confidence into the second set. It was a great match for me and I was the favourite to win, so it's important for me.
"I'm very happy with the week. All the matches were tough and there were a lot of great players here. It's always nice to have a title."
As the match wore on, the Frenchman's experience proved to be a critical factor. Gasquet launched his one-handed backhand with a bevy of topspin to drive the Argentine behind the baseline, and he would drop just one game in the second set to pull away for the title.
Schwartzman was bidding for his second ATP World Tour title in his second final. He captured his maiden title on the clay of Istanbul (d. Dimitrov) earlier this year. He takes home €53,085 and 150 Emirates ATP Rankings points.
"I am happy because the week was really good for me," said Schwartzman. "I played a great first set and fought back. The tie-break was really close. Richard improved a lot in the second set and played really well.
"It's my second final of the year and my first on indoor hard courts. I've improved a lot. It's really nice for me. I stayed focused."