The tennis week immediately following 2016 Australian Open saw three ATP 250 events at Quito, Ecuador; Montpellier, France and Sofia, Bulgaria. History was made at Quito, where Dominican Republic’s Victor Estrella Burgos joined Stan Wawrinka in a select club with a comeback win. Besides Wawrinka, who retained his Chennai Open title, Burgos is the only other player over the age of 30 to retain an ATP title. Interestingly, the Dominican won his first ATP title at age 34 also at Quito last year and he has successfully defended it. Richard Gasquet won the Montpellier title after defeating Paul-Henri Mathieu in the all-French final, while Sofia’s inaugural tournament was won by Spain’s Roberto Baustista Agut. Tennis media also splashed the story on Swiss Maestro Roger Federer undergoing a knee surgery last Tuesday in Switzerland. Federer sustained the injury soon after his semifinal loss to Novak Djokovic and will be out of action all through February and possibly longer. He is certainly out of the draw at Rotterdam and Dubai Open.
Victor Estrella Burgos now has 2 ATP 250 titles. The Dominican won his first as a 34-year old in 2015 at Quito and this year, he has defended it successfully, despite being pushed hard by Brazil’s Thomaz Bellucci. Estrella Burgos is the fifth ATP player in 2016 to have successfully defended the title after Stan Wawrinka at Chennai; Viktor Troicki in Sydney, Novak Djokovic at Melbourne and Richard Gasquet at Montpellier. But at over 30 years of age, the Dominican is the only one besides Wawrinka to have repeated the feat. It didn’t look easy for Estrella Burgos in the first set as Bellucci dictated terms and the Dominican faltered on service returns. After losing the first set 4-6, Estrella Burgos raised his game in the second with a dominant base-line play. The set went on serve and a tiebreak ensued. Bellucci began with a 3-1 lead but missed a point on his serve and that allowed Estrella Burgos to come back into the match. Estrella Burgos kept the ball in play, won his service games and won the set 7-6. The Dominican carried the momentum into third set and found a break in the opening game. From that point onwards, Bellucci’s game dipped a shade and Estrella Burgos finished a second time winner at Quito with a 4-6, 7-6, 6-2 result.
In Open Sud de France at Montpellier, Richard Gasquet also retained his 2015 title by beating compatriot Paul-Henri Mathieu 7-5, 6-4. Gasquet has now won three titles at Montpellier in four final appearances on trot. In the first set, Gasquet was broken early as Mathieu led 3-0. However, the defending champion squared off with a break of his own and leveled set scores to 3-3. However, Mathieu fought hard and broke Gasquet for the second time for a 5-4 lead. Gasquet didn’t yield and won the next three points to take the set 7-5. As the second set began, Gasquet broke again. He never looked back after that, won the match 7-5, 6-4 in 108 minutess and retained his 2015 title.
Last week’s third ATP 250 event was held for the first time at Sofia, where Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut continued his fine run of 2016 form. In a dominant show, Bautista Agut defeated Serbia’s Viktor Troicki 6-3, 6-4. It was the second 2016 ATP title for Bautista Agut, who also won the Auckland Open in January. Viktor Troicki has also had a good 2016 season with a title at Sydney International, where he defeated Grigor Dimitrov in the final. At Sofia, Bautista Agut didn’t allow Troicki any liberty with his powerful game and cleverly executed drop shots on multiple occasions. The Spaniard obtained the lone break of the first set in eighth game and looked like running away with the match by breaking Troicki in the opening game of the second. But the Serb broke right back to stay in the set. However, Bautista Agut couldn’t be held for long as he broke again to lead 2-1 and finished off with a 6-3, 6-4 victory in 82 minutes.
In another story doing the rounds in tennis circuits, Swiss superstar Roger Federer underwent an arthroscopic knee surgery in Switzerland for a torn meniscus. Federer picked up the injury a day after his semifinal loss to Djokovic at Australian Open. As per surgeons attending on Federer, the Swiss world no.3 will be forced to withdraw from ATP 500 event at Rotterdam and Dubai Duty-Free Tennis championships. Federer is disappointed but he has to comply with the mandatory rest period advised by his doctors.