Chile’s Christian Garin cemented his rising star status with a 7-6(4), 4-6, 6-3 win over Norway’s Casper Ruud to capture his first career title at the Fayez Sarofim & Co. US Men’s Clay Court Championship on Sunday.
It was 22-year-old Garin’s second win over Ruud, 20, in the past two months, also defeating him in straight sets en route to the Sao Paulo final in early March.
Sunday’s two-and-a-half hour marathon featured three breaks of serve for each player, including two apiece in the first set. Of the 204 total points played, Garin won just six more than his opponent.
“It was a really intense match,” he told the Houston media. “I think what I did well today was to keep playing my game. I think I’m playing my best tennis now, and I think that was the key: to run and play solid with my backhand.”
With the victory, Garin becomes the first ATP Tour winner from Chile since Fernando Gonzalez won at Viña del Mar in 2009. Gonzalez was also the last Chilean US Clay winner, taking the 2000 title over countryman Nicolas Massu.
Sunday’s final showcased some of the brightest young talent on the ATP Tour. Garin is the youngest champion since Jack Sock captured the title here in 2015 at 22 years, six months. Ruud is the youngest finalist since Andy Roddick made a run to the US Clay title in 2002.
Garin defeated Alexander Zverev to capture the Roland Garros boys’ title in 2013, notching his first ATP win that same year. He wouldn’t achieve more success at the ATP level until earlier this season when he found his rhythm during the February/March “Golden Swing” in South America.
With his win today, Garin will move inside the top 50 for the first time in his career heading into the remainder of clay season and, of course, Roland Garros – his favorite tournament of the year.
“[Winning this title] is a dream come true, but of course I want more,” he added. “I have to work hard every day to be the top player [I can be].”
Despite a disappointing loss, Ruud will also rise to a new career-high rank inside the top 70 on Monday.
“I went for winners, so I can’t be too disappointed,” the Norwegian said after the match. “In the end, he was a bit better and he deserved to win. South Americans, they are almost born on clay, I guess. Even though you lose, it’s good for the confidence to show you can play at this level in a long match. I gave it everything I had.”