Sinner Leads 2020 First-Time Winners

Continuing our Season In Review series, pays tribute to the first-time winners of the 2020 season. Take a look at the six players who lifted their first tour-level trophy in 2020.

Ugo Humbert – Auckland [First-Time Winner Spotlight]
After closing his 2019 ATP Tour season with his debut appearance at the Next Gen ATP Finals, Ugo Humbert wasted no time in making his mark on the ATP Tour in 2020. At the ASB Classic in Auckland, Humbert made history as the first French player to lift the ATP 250 trophy.

The Metz-born star battled past fellow 2019 Milan competitor Casper Ruud in three sets to reach the second round, before earning straight-sets wins against Marco Cecchinato, second seed Denis Shapovalov and fourth seed John Isner to reach the championship match.

In a thrilling final, Humbert held his nerve in a dramatic final set to overcome countryman Benoit Paire 7-6(2), 3-6, 7-6(5). The Frenchman jumped from No. 57 to a career-high No. 43 in the FedEx ATP Rankings.

“It’s a tournament of revenge because I’ve lost to four of the five players I played this week,” Humbert joked in Auckland. “It’s a great improvement for me and I couldn’t dream of a better beginning for the season.”

Humbert has since collected his second ATP Tour trophy in Antwerp and cracked the Top 30. 

Casper Ruud – Buenos Aires [First-Time Winner Spotlight]
Casper Ruud made Norwegian history at the Argentina Open in Buenos Aires. The Oslo-native became the first player from his nation to lift an ATP Tour trophy with an impressive run. Ruud charged past Pablo Andujar, Roberto Carballes Baena and Dusan Lajovic to reach the semi-finals, in which he rallied from a set down to eliminate Juan Ignacio Londero and reach his second tour-level final.

In the championship match, Ruud ended the run of lucky loser Pedro Sousa in straight sets to lift the title and earn family bragging rights. Casper not only become the first Norwegian ATP Tour champion, he also became the highest-ranked Norwegian in FedEx ATP Rankings history. He beat the previous-best mark held by his father and coach, Christian Ruud (World No. 39).

“I feel a great sensation now. It is what all players look for and dream [of]. I am very happy with my career, although I know that I am still young,” Ruud said. “Buenos Aires will always be a special place for me, this is [where I won] my first title.”

Ruud’s success in Buenos Aires provided the springboard to a breakthrough 2020 campaign. The 21-year-old, who reached a career-high No. 25 on 28 September, finished as a runner-up in Santiago and reached back-to-back semi-finals in Rome and Hamburg to finish the year with a Tour-leading 17 clay wins. 

Casper Ruud

Thiago Seyboth Wild – Santiago [First-Time Winner Spotlight]
Thiago Seyboth Wild entered the inaugural Chile Dove Men+Care Open with just three tour-level victories to his name. The #NextGenATP Brazilian left with the trophy.

Seyboth Wild beat three Argentine players en route to his maiden championship match, in which he faced Buenos Aires champion Ruud for the trophy. The 19-year-old earned a crucial early break in the final set and maintained his advantage to become the youngest Brazilian titlist in ATP Tour history and the youngest champion during the Golden Swing since an 18-year-old Rafael Nadal prevailed in 2005 Acapulco.

“It’s an incredible achievement,” Seyboth Wild said. “It’s something I’ve always dreamed about… As the matches went by and I was feeling myself on court, I felt like I could go step-by-step. When I got to the final, I needed to play it just like another match, like I had been playing the whole week and take my chances.”

Seyboth Wild Santiago 2020 Trophy

Miomir Kecmanovic – Kitzbühel [First-Time Winner Spotlight]
Following in the footsteps of 2019 Next Gen ATP Finals competitors Humbert and Ruud, Miomir Kecmanovic added his name to the 2020 first-time winners list with his title run at the Generali Open.

Fourteen months after failing to convert championship point in his first ATP Tour final in Antalya, the Serbian earned three-set wins against Kei Nishikori, Federico Delbonis and Marc-Andrea Huesler to earn his second title opportunity. In the final, Kecmanovic ended the run of qualifier Yannick Hanfmann to collect his maiden ATP Tour crown.

“It means a lot [to win my first ATP Tour title]. I worked so hard for this,” said Kecmanovic. “I am definitely happy that I was able to achieve it so quickly.”

Miomir Kecmanovic is the second #NextGenATP player to capture an ATP Tour title this year.

John Millman – Nur-Sultan [First-Time Winner Spotlight]
At the inaugural Astana Open, John Millman became the fifth first-time ATP Tour champion of the year and the fifth player in 2020 to win a tour-level trophy after saving match point.

In the quarter-finals, Millman saved two match points at 3-5 down in the decider and recovered from 0/5 in a final-set tie-break to outlast Tommy Paul. Millman also needed to recover from a set down against Frances Tiafoe in the semi-finals to reach his third ATP Tour final. The 31-year-old Australian handled the pressure of playing a championship match well in Nur-Sultan. He saved all six break points he faced against Adrian Mannarino to become the oldest first-time ATP Tour champion of the season.

“It is incredible. I am so happy and relieved,” Millman said. “I just feel very satisfied. It is just a pure moment of satisfaction… That was my third final, third time lucky, I guess. These things aren’t easy to win and to do so at a place where I felt so comfortable all week, in terms of the hospitality, makes it really special. To win the inaugural Astana Open is special. I am so happy. It has been a big team effort and I am pumped.”

John Millman owns a 16-11 record this year.

Jannik Sinner – Sofia [First-Time Winner Spotlight]
One year after his breakthrough success at the 2019 Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan, Jannik Sinner ended an impressive 2020 season with his first ATP Tour title at the Sofia Open. The #NextGenATP Italian dropped just one set en route to the final. In the quarter-finals, he recovered from a set down to overcome Alex de Minaur in a repeat of the 2019 Milan championship match.

In the final, Sinner was pushed all the way to a final-set tie-break by Vasek Pospisil. The 19-year-old played with aggression in crucial moments to clinch his victory and earn his place in the history books. Sinner became the youngest ATP Tour titlist since an 18-year-old Kei Nishikori won the 2008 Delray Beach Open by

“It is always special when you win tournaments,” Sinner said. “I felt well this week. It is special. Playing finals like this, 7-6 in the third… is always tough. But when you win, it is an even better win than winning 6-1 6-1.

“I am happy about the match, how I tried to stay there every point and I think it is a very special week for me.”

Sinner’s title run capped a memorable 2020 season for the San Candido-born star. The 6’2” right-hander earned three Top 10 wins in 2020 and finished the year with a 19-11 record. Following his success in Sofia, Sinner jumped to a career-high No. 37 in the FedEx ATP Rankings. 

Jannik Sinner is the first Italian to win an ATP Tour singles title in 2020.

Read All Best Of 2020 Stories

Source link