Chile Open Truly A Homecoming Week For Garin, Win Or Lose

Cristian Garin (photo: Movistar Chile Open)

SANTIAGO/WASHINGTON, February 28, 2024 (by Michael Dickens)

Coming home to Chile at this time every year brings a positive energy for Santiago native Cristian Garin, regardless of his ranking or win-loss record.

“Being at home, seeing my friends and family supporting me this week is always very special,” said the 83rd-ranked Garin, a former Chilean No. 1, who spoke to reporters in advance of his first-round match at the ATP 250 Movistar Chile Open.

“It’s only once a year, so I try to make the most of it,” he added.

“It’s my fifth year playing the tournament so I already know what I’m coming for, I have my routine and everything prepared. I already like living it. It’s a special week.”

On Tuesday evening, the 2021 Santiago champion Garin was featured on Court Jaime Fillol against fellow Chilean Tomas Barrios Vera, ranked 111th, in a first-round match. It didn’t go well for Garin, though. He lost 7-6 (3), 7-5 in two hours and one minute.

Barrios Vera converted three of seven break-point chances and outpointed Garin 82-68. He put away the win on his first match point opportunity with a fifth-shot backhand winner down the line. The victory advanced him to play No. 4 seed Alejandro Tabilo of Chile, ranked 51st.

Despite starting the year with a disappointing 1-4 record, Garin is not too discouraged by his early-season results. He lost a tough five-setter against Christopher O’Connell at the Australian Open, but rebounded to beat Roberto Carballes Baena in three sets last week at the Rio Open.

Win or lose, Garin is training hard to try to recapture the form that once saw him rise to World No. 17 in 2021.

“I want to play well and apply what I have been improving,” Garin said.

“The support of the public, being with my friends supporting me near the court, having my entire team complete, being able to sleep in my house, being with dog, finishing the day and being able to enjoy myself again. It’s much more comfortable. That is the big difference.”

Cerundolo breaks seven-match losing streak on clay

Argentine qualifier Juan Manuel Cerundolo overcame a slow start against fifth-seeded Yannick Hanfmann of Germany and emerged with a 3-6, 6-3, 7-5 first-round win in two hours and 47 minutes.

The victory was the first tour-level win for the 161st-ranked Cerundolo since defeating Ilya Ivashka of Belarus at last year’s US Open. It was also his first ATP Tour triumph on clay since beating Argentine Pedro Cachin last year in the first round at Santiago.

Cerundolo overcame three breaks of his serve by breaking the No. 49 Hanfmann four times, including to go ahead 6-5 in the final set. He closed out the victory on his first match point and outpointed Hanfmann 96-91.

“I think my forehand at the beginning wasn’t powerful enough to do much damage to him,” Cerundolo said in his on-court interview. “After that, I got more aggressive and I think that was the key to winning the match.”

Later, in his news conference, Cerundolo added: “I like Santiago. I feel like I can do a lot of damage. This court helps me be a lot more aggressive.”

Next, after playing three matches in four days – including two in qualifying for the main draw – Cerundolo will get a day off. He will face either 148th-ranked Argentine lucky loser Facundo Bagnis or 80th-ranked Italian wild card Luciano Darderi in Thursday’s second round.

Tirante stops Rio Open quarterfinalist Fonseca in first round

Thiago Agustín Tirante, one of eight Argentines in the main draw, earned his first ATP Rankings point at age 16 in 2017, broke into the Top 500 in 2020, made the Top 200 in March 2022 and, finally, earned a career-high ranking of No. 100 earlier this month.

Tirante, 22, tamed 17-year-old Brazilian upstart Joao Fonseca, 7-5, 7-6 (3), in two hours and eight minutes in a featured afternoon match. He outpointed his opponent 87-76 a week after Fonseca became the first player born since 2006 to win an ATP Tour match and the youngest Brazilian quarterfinalist in the Open Era, gaining 312 spots to reach a new career-high No. 343.

“It was a very good match, very close,” Tirante said in his lost-match news conference. “I had to be very attentive. Fonseca is aggressive all the time; you have to take advantage of every opportunity.”

Next, Tirante, who is playing in just his fifth ATP Tour event, will oppose 140th-ranked French qualifier Corentin Moutet.

Around the Movistar Chile Open

No. 70 Jaume Munar avenged a first-round loss to No. 143 Bernabe Zapata Miralles last week in Rio and beat his fellow Spaniard, 6-4, 6-1. Next, he will face 104th-ranked Albert Ramos-Vinolas of Spain, who eased past No. 157 Hugo Dellien of Bolivia, 6-3, 6-2.

No. 73 Thiago Seyboth Wild of Brazil defeated 159th-ranked Argentine qualifier Roman Andres Burruchaga, 6-4, 6-4, in their first meeting, to advance against No. 3 seed Arthur Fils of France.

No. 119 Juan Pablo Varillas of Peru advanced with a 6-2, 3-6, 6-1 win over 114th-ranked lucky loser Francisco Comesaña of Argentina. Next, Varillas will face No. 2 seed Sebastian Baez of Argentina, who won the Rio Open title Sunday evening.

Late Monday: Qualifier Corentin Moutet of France defeated No. 7 seed Roberto Carballes Baena of Spain, 6-3, 5-7, 6-2, in two hours and 58 minutes – finishing past midnight – to earn his first tour-level Top 100 win since defeating No. 51 Richard Gasquet at Wimbledon last year. The 140th-ranked Moutet, who outpointed Carballes Baena 101-88, is 2-5 on tour-level clay since the start of 2023 season.

Tuesday’s Movistar Chile Open results

Wednesday’s Movistar Chile Open order of play

By the numbers

Thiago Agustín Tirante, 22, of Argentina is making his Top 100 debut this week, joining seven other Argentines, the most since February 2022. Argentina stands as the third country with the most players in the Top 100 after USA (12) and France (10).

“Quotable …”

“All the rivals are very tough. If you play badly you can lose with anyone in the draw. You have to go game by game. Now, I have to rest and recover well.”

Facundo Diaz Acosta of Argentina, who rallied to beat fellow Argentine Pedro Cachin, 5-7, 6-3, 7-6 (2), Monday night for his ninth victory in February.