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By Erik Gudris | Sunday, May 1, 2016


Proving there’s no such thing as a routine final, the Istanbul Open event ended on bizarre terms as a surprise winner walked away with the title.

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In the end, Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman capped off a dream week while No. 2 seed Grigor Dimitrov suffered a self-induced nightmare after once holding a commmanding lead.

Dimitrov ended up forfeiting the match thanks to a succession of outbursts where he broke several racquets before losing the final set 6-0 to a chorus of boos from the Istanbul crowd.

Dimitrov apologized for his meltdown during the trophy ceremony.

“Congrats to Diego, he was a great fighter. First and foremost I let my family down and let my team down. I let my fans down for that kind of behavior that I am definitely aplogizing for.”

The World No. 87 ranked Schwartzman found himself in the final after a solid run that included upsetting top seed Bernard Tomic earlier in the week. Though Schwartzman entered a heavy underdog against the higher-ranked Dimitrov, the Argentinian proved he was not going to hand the title to his opponent.

Though Dimitrov jumped out to a 3-1 in the opening set, he then struggled to hold serve. As each man traded multiple service breaks, they soon found themselves in a tiebreak.

After holding an early advantage, Dimitrov finally managed to take the tiebreak 7-6(5) when Schwartzman netted a makable volley.

Dimitrov broke early in the second set and looked ready to assume control of the match. With better serving, and with help from more errrors from Schwartzman, Dimitrov extended his lead to 5-2.

But the tenancious Schwartzman would not go away. With aggressive play and solid returning, Schwartzman broke Dimitrov who served for the match up 5-3.

Schwartzman would level up the set a few games later. At 5-all, Dimitrov appeared to deal with cramps. Dimitrov committed a forehand error and now found himself trailing at 6-5.

Dimitrov rallied to break back and thus another tiebreak was needed. Schwartzman hung around and took advantage of more miscues from Dimitrov. Soon, Schwartzman held a set point and converted when Dimitrov netted a backhand.

The culmination of dealing with broken strings several times and an opponent who would not yield seemed too much for Dimitrov. Now finding himself in an unexpected third set after blowing his earlier lead, Dimitrov began to unravel both physically and mentally.

Schwartzman broke for a 2-0 lead thanks to a succession of errors from Dimitrov. That resulted in Dimitrov destroying one racquet that earned him a warning for racquet abuse.

Now looking dejected, Dimitrov broke another racquet while trailing on his serve at 0-4. That resulted in a point penalty that gave Schwartzman a 5-0 lead.

Though Dimitrov was close to winning the next game, Schwartzman again would not budge. When the game went to deuce, Dimitrov appeared to have had enough. Walking up to the chair umpire, Dimitrov said “Watch this”. He proceeded, despite the umpire tellng him to stop, to break yet another racquet on the sidelines. With that, Dimitrov incurred another penatly and forfeited the match.

Schwartzman found himself the winner 6-7(5) 7-6(4) 6-0 after sharing a brief hug with Dimitrov. Istanbul is the first career ATP title for the Argentine.

As Schwartzman celebrated his victory with his team and the fans, Dimitrov sat silently on the sidelines as if reflecting on what went so wrong in the last stages of the match.

“Sorry about today Grigor. You are a big player. You are going to play many finals,” Schwartzman said afterwards to his opponent. “I’m a really happy and thank everyone for coming today. An amazing week for me. I don’t know what happened. It’s like a dream. My first final and first title in Istanbul. Thanks to everyone here.”

 

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