Uzbekistan’s Denis Istomin has clinched his first ATP World Tour title at the Aegon Open Nottingham, after defeating Sam Querrey 7-6(1) 7-6(6) in Saturday’s sold-out final. Istomin, who is ranked 48 places below 12th seed Querrey, was appearing in his third career tour final and caused another upset after beating seeded players Juan Monaco and Leonardo Mayer on his way to the last two.
More than 26,000 fans, including 4,000 local school children ,have flocked to the Nottingham Tennis Centre for the WTA and ATP tournaments. The two Aegon Open Nottingham events have seen the return of world class tennis to the city and have worked to highlight the opportunities to play tennis in and around the city for all communities.
Querrey, the big-serving American, saved two match points and almost levelled the tie having raced ahead 5-1 in the second-set tiebreak. But Istomin, who also became the first Uzbekistani to lift an ATP World Tour title, recovered his composure to land the title and spoke of his relief at seeing the match out: “I was pushing so much at the end. I broke him in the second set twice. First game he played unbelievable to make it 5-3, but at 5-4 I was thinking, ‘Come on, I have to do it’. I was a little bit nervous and he took his chance to break for 5-5. During the tiebreak, I just forgot about the score and I just tried to fight. In the end it worked, and I’m happy to have my first title.”
Istomin was also proud to share the moment with his mother and coach Klaudiya Istomina. He said: “We’ve worked all the way with my mum, practicing hard and I’m happy for her. She has helped so much. It’s great because I’m always with my mum. Maybe for her it’s more difficult because I’m her son, so she cannot push me as much as other players. But we have a good combination and I’m happy that we’re together.”
World No. 44 Querrey, who toppled second seed and World No. 13 Gilles Simon in the semi-finals, said his comeback in the final was outdone by some moments of brilliance from his opponent. “It was kind of an emotional rollercoaster toward the end,” Querrey said. “He came up with some good shots. I’m a little bummed. I was down and out then I brought it back. Then I was up and he came back.
“It was frustrating. I had nothing to lose so I just went for it – which I probably should have done the whole time, but it’s easier said than done – and I just took rips at the ball and started coming in, and the balls were falling in.”
He added: “Generally, I’m pretty happy to make the final. I’m a little bummed right now, but I’m sure when I wake up tomorrow I’ll be a little happier.”
With a maiden title now under his belt, Istomin goes into Wimbledon on a high ahead of his first round meeting with Spaniard Albert Ramos-Vinolas. Istomin said: “It was an amazing week, a very tough week. I’m happy to be in this form, it’s very good preparation for Wimbledon. I’m tired but I have confidence now. I don’t think it will be easy to play me at Wimbledon.”
Earlier in the day, the doubles pairing of Chris Guccione and Andre Sa also lifted their first ATP crown after defeating second seeds Pablo Cuevas and David Marrero 6-2 7-5 in the final on Centre Court.
Brazilian Sa said: “It means a lot. It means that we’re doing something right. We started this partnership this year, so to come out after a few tournaments already with a title is special.”
Guccione of Australia added: “It’s always great to win a title. We only started playing a couple of months ago. We’ve been winning matches for the past month until the quarter-finals and semi-finals, so it’s good to get that breakthrough.”