All-Mayer Final Set In Hamburg
For the second straight week, a Lucky Loser will vie for an ATP World Tour title after Leonardo dismissed Federico Delbonis in Saturday's first semi-final. The Argentine needed one hour and 24 minutes to defeat his countryman 6-3, 7-5, firing six aces while claiming an impressive 76 per cent of total service points. The 30 year old will appear in his fourth final on the ATP World Tour and first since finishing runner-up to Dominic Thiem in Nice in 2015. His lone title came here at the Am Rothenbaum the year prior.
"Today, I played very well," Leonardo said. "It's never easy to play a friend. Federico is one of the best players on a clay court. It wasn't easy for me, but I'm very happy for this win. I hope I can keep it going tomorrow."
It has been a stunning run to the final for Leonardo, who rebounded after falling to German wild card Rudolf Molleker in the final round of qualifying on Sunday. He would enter the main draw after Martin Klizan withdrew due to a calf injury and proceeded to edge top seed Albert Ramos-Vinolas in a deciding-set tie-break in the first round. Leonardo would not drop a set from then on, streaking to the final. He is looking to continue the good fortunes of Lucky Losers in recent weeks, following #NextGenATP star Andrey Rublev's maiden title last week in Umag.
The Buenos Aires resident extended his FedEx ATP Head2Head over Delbonis to 3-1, taking their first encounter since earning a qualifying win five years ago at the 2012 Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters. He will next face Florian Mayer for the title, in what will be their fourth meeting. They split their two matchups, with Leonardo prevailing in Delray Beach in 2010 and Florian emerging in Halle in 2013. It is not the first all-Mayer final on the ATP World Tour, however, with Gene Mayer defeating Sandy Mayer at Stockholm 1981.
World No. 138 Leonardo will see his position in the Emirates ATP Rankings soar after reaching the final. The former World No. 21 is projected to break back into the Top 100 for the first time in more than a year after a shoulder injury hampered his progress in 2016. Runner-up finishes at the ATP Challenger Tour events in Tigre, Argentina and Bastad, Sweden, have also contributed to Leonardo's resurgence.
Florian, meanwhile, claimed his spot in the final after fellow German Philipp Kohlschreiber retired due to a left leg adductor strain while leading 6-4, 2-3. He carries a 2-4 record in ATP World Tour finals, seeking to lift a 500-level trophy for a second straight year. The 33 year old triumphed at the Gerry Weber Open in Halle in 2016.
When No. 101 Florian faces No. 138 Leonardo on Sunday, it will also mark the first ATP World Tour final between two players outside the Top 100 since 2013, when it happened twice: 109th-ranked Ernests Gulbis defeated 105th-ranked Edouard Roger-Vasselin in Delray Beach and No. 155 Ivo Karlovic topped No. 122 Alejandro Falla in Bogota.
Cuevas/Lopez Advance To Doubles Final
Competing together for the first time this week, Pablo Cuevas and Marc Lopez will battle for the Hamburg doubles title. The second-seeded Uruguayan-Spanish duo defeated Julian Knowle and David Marrero 6-4, 4-6, 10-4 on Saturday and will face top seeds Ivan Dodig and Mate Pavic next.
Cuevas is vying for his third doubles title of the year with three different partners, having won with Rohan Bopanna in Monte-Carlo and Pablo Carreno Busta in Rio de Janeiro. Lopez is bidding for his first since claiming the gold medal last year at the Rio Olympics with Rafael Nadal. A past champion in Hamburg, he captured the title with Marrero in 2010.