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By Richard Pagliaro | @Tennis_Now | Friday, May 17, 2024


Nicolas Jarry topped Tommy Paul 6-3, 6-7(3) 6-3 to become the first Chilean since Fernando Gonzalez in 2007 to reach the Rome final.

Photo credit: Dan Istitene/Getty

It was Tommy Paul’s 27th birthday, but Nicolas Jarry seized the stage unleashing Chilean celebration.

The 28-year-old Jarry subdued spiking nerves and a stubborn Paul converting his fifth match point to cap a thrilling 6-3, 6-7(3), 6-3 victory to reach his maiden Rome final.

More: Break Ups & Love Matches

On a day that saw two Chilean men reach the Rome final four, Jarry dug down deep to make history as the first Chilean to reach an ATP 1000 final since the man with the monster forehand, former Olympic gold-medal doubles champion, Fernando Gonzalez did it at the 2007 Rome.

The 14th-seeded Paul rallied from a one-set, 2-4 deficit, rolled through the tiebreaker and seemed to have the momentum. Paul fought off four match points in a frenetic final game before the towering Jarry bombed his 13th ace down the middle for a fifth match point.

The victory vaults Jarry to a career-high ranking of No. 17 in the live rankings and into the Rome final against Alexander Zverev.

Olympic gold-medal champion Zverev ended the fairy-tale run of Chilean left-hander Alejandro Tabilo with a 1-6, 7-6(4), 6-2 triumph to reach his third Rome final.

The 2017 Rome champion Zverev is 4-2 vs. Jarry, including a pulsating 6-3, 3-6, 7-6(8) win in the 2019 Geneva final on red clay.

The 6’7” Chilean was crushing his forehand as fast as he had in toppling two-time Monte-Carlo champion Stefanos Tsitsipas 3-6, 7-5, 6-4 in the quarterfinals. Jarry pulled the string on a shrewd forehand drop-shot winner holding at 30 for 4-3.

In the eighth game, Paul unraveled with a framed forehand, backhand miss and double fault to face double break point. Paul saved the first break point then hit a hellacious kick serve that pushed the Chilean in touching distance with the side wall.

Levering his long reach, the lanky Jarry put a return back down the line and Paul, trying to hit the opposite corner, sailed a forehand ceding the break and a 5-3 lead.

The 14th-seeded American tried playing the low slice backhand to make the big man bend and defuse the crackling pace coming at him. Jarry did a good job quickly getting around the ball to fire forehands.

Serving for the opening set, Jarry slammed his fourth ace out wide wrapping up the first set in 42 minutes.

Clad head-to-toe in Wilson, Jarry served 74 percent and won 17 of 23 first-serve points. Paul, who deployed superb all-court skills in knocking off defending-champion Daniil Medvedev and seventh-seeded Hubert Hurkacz in succession, didn’t have enough time to get to net too much against ballistic ball-striker Jarry.

Paul took the right tact by playing high-low in an effort to disrupt Jarry’s rhythm at the start of the second set. Paul earned a pair of break points, but Jarry brought the bomb squad. Rocketing forehands corner to corner, he saved both break points and held in the second game of the second set.

Fast hands and the skill to shorten his backswing are Paul assets he showed with a pair of eye-popping backhand return winners down the line—-the first off a 130 mph blast and second off a kick serve—threatening the Chilean’s serve in the fourth game.

On the stretch, Paul flicked back a dangerous short return, a sliding Jarry not only caught up to hit, he lifted an audacious-angled touch reply that left both fans and his opponent applauding the improvisational brilliance.

That sensational sliding get that recalled the young Johnny Mac and younger Carlos Alcaraz and preceded Jarry’s slick serve-and-volley winner ending an exceptional game for 2-all.

While Jarry is at heart an aggressive baseliner, who is at his best commanding the center of the court, he delivered from all areas in this semifinal.

When Paul pressed forward and tried to take it to the big man, Jarry whipped a forehand pass scoring the first break of the second set for 3-2. Jarry backed up the break for 4-2.

At that point, Jarry was two holds away from his biggest final, but Paul was not done.

Paul showed his special shotmaking skills on the run to ignite the crowd and spark a comeback.

Electrifying Rome fans with a phenomenal one-handed backhand pass down the line on the full sprint, Paul pumped up his own energy level holding for 3-4.

After that game, Rome fans erupted in the wave. Paul made some lunging returns and drew successive errors breaking right back to even after eight games.

The man in the canary-colored kit was two points from the set reaching 30-all on Jarry’s serve in the 10th game The Chilean slashed successive aces holding to level for 5-all.

Tightening up in the tiebreaker, Jarry committed back-to-back backhand errors, shoveling a slice into net to fall behind 0-3.

Leading 4-0, Paul put a forehand into the tape, but came right back with a spinning forehand pass for 5-1.

Reading the wide serve, Paul was inside the baseline when he belted a backhand return winner down the line erupting in a celebratory shout sending this semifinal into a final set after one hour, 50 minutes.

Both men left the court for bathroom breaks returning with a one-set shootout for the Rome final. The 2015 Roland Garros junior champion saved a break point with a probing forehand in the corner to set up a smash. Paul held for 2-all.

Ripping returns, Jarry gave Paul little to work with in rattling out two errors in a row to forge the key break for 4-2.

In the next game, Paul lined up a backhand pass and ripped it right at the Chilean’s body. In a reflex self-preservation stab volley, Jarry blocked back a volley off the throat of his Wilson Blade that somehow plopped into the corner. That special block helped Jarry hold backing up the break for 5-2.

A fierce Paul kept on fighting, Paul erased three match points, lacing the lines with a pair of backhands on two of the match points.

A 12th ace out wide gave Jarry a fourth match point. The Chilean was in prime position for a backhand volley but pushed into net to drop to deuce.

Ruing that bad bungle, a tight Jarry sailed a forehand to face break point. Jarry dug in and denied it.

Bombing his 13th ace down the middle brought Jarry a fifth match point. This time, he finished it drawing one final error to end a thrilling two hour, 44-minute triumph.


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