Serbian Laslo Djere lifted his first ATP Tour trophy by claiming the Rio Open crown with a hard-fought 6-3 7-5 victory over teenager Felix Auger-Aliassime on Sunday.
Djere, ranked 90th in the world, broke once in the first set and twice in the second to beat the Canadian, who was making history as the youngest man to reach an ATP 500 final.
The plucky 18-year old saved four match points before succumbing after two hours to the unseeded right-hander.
“It’s been the week of my dreams,” Djere said. “So many things have been achieved here. I’m really happy, excited and emotional now. I’m happy I could push through this match because it was very tough mentally and physically.”
Before this week, the 23-year old Djere had not won a match on clay all season and had never beaten a Top 10 rival.
However, he hammered world No.8 Dominic Thiem in the first round and never lost a set on the way to his maiden title.
Djere broke Auger-Aliassime six times and was commanding with his powerful forehands and two-handed backhands.
Auger-Aliassime was the fourth teenager to reach the final of an ATP 500 event — the 13 tournaments ranked just below the Masters series — since the level was created in 2009.
Following victory, Djere gave an emotional winner’s speech in which he paid tribute to his parents – both of whom have passed away.
“I lost my mom seven years ago and I want to dedicate this one to her. And also to my dad, I lost him two months ago.”
— Tennis TV (@TennisTV) February 24, 2019
“I want to dedicate this trophy to my parents,” he said. “I lost my mum seven years ago, so I want to dedicate this one to her. And also to my dad, I lost him two months ago.
“My parents had the biggest impact on me and because of them I am who I am today. So I really want to thank them and I hope they are watching me now.”
Djere is projected to rise 53 places to a career-high ranking of No.37 when Monday’s ATP rankings are released.
In a quirk, he is unseeded in this week’s ATP clay-court event in Sao Paulo, despite now being the highest-ranked player in the field.
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