Adrian Mannarino is back in the winners’ circle.
The Frenchman ended the dream run of #NextGenATP American Alex Michelsen 6-2, 6-4 on Sunday to win the Infosys Hall of Fame Open. It is the lefty’s first title of the season.
“It was a pleasure to play here this week in Newport another time,” Mannarino said during the trophy ceremony. “I’ve been doing well this year [in Newport]. The past nine years I wasn't doing great here, but it was always a pleasure to be back and I always enjoy it.”
Early in his career, Mannarino struggled in ATP Tour finals, losing the first six he played. But the 35-year-old has won two of his past three championship clashes and is now a three-time tour-level champion. He had not made it past the quarter-finals in Newport before this week.
“I’m just fighting on court, trying to do my best and it’s always some really close matches and you never know what to expect,” Mannarino said. “I’m feeling pretty lucky that I got through all the way this week.”
Eighteen-year-old Michelsen showed no fear of the big stage throughout his second ATP Tour event, at which he upset two former Newport champions, Maxime Cressy and John Isner. But Mannarino smartly prevented the teen from finding any rhythm, especially in longer rallies.
Michelsen won 31 per cent of his return points against Isner, one of the best servers in history. But he managed to claim just 27 per cent of his return points against Mannarino, who used his lefty slice to keep the ball out of the American's strike zone.
After a one-sided first set, Michelsen battled hard and immediately broke to take the lead in the second set. But Mannarino was too steady throughout and ultimately lifted the trophy after one hour and 22 minutes.
“I’d like to congratulate Alex for a great couple of weeks,” Mannarino said. “He's playing really well and he has such a bright future ahead of him.”
Michelsen, who did not own a tour-level win entering the tournament, nearly became the youngest ATP Tour titlist this season and the fourth teen to claim a crown. Last week he earned his first ATP Challenger Tour trophy in Chicago.
“You're one of the best grass-court players on tour. I think I saw you final Mallorca and you're a really good player, all the best in the future,” Michelsen said to Mannarino during the trophy ceremony. “I want to thank all the sponsors. This week was probably the best week of my life tennis-wise and you guys all made it happen, so it was pretty cool, thank you.”
One year ago this week, Michelsen was tied for No. 1,081 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings. Despite the loss, he will climb to World No. 139 on Monday.
"I got a tonne of points, I was here on my own trying to figure it out, so I think I did pretty well," Michelsen said. "It was a very good week, a very positive week. Not too many negatives for sure."
Did You Know?
Mannarino also reached a grass-court final earlier this year in Mallorca. Two of his three ATP Tour titles have come on the surface, having earned his first title four years ago in 's-Hertogenbosch.