First Chilean to win at home event in 12 years
Santiago, Chile, 15 March, 2021: World No. 22 Cristian Garin had not won a match in 2021 before arriving at the Chile Dove Men+Care Open. But on home soil in his native Santiago, the top seed completed a strong return to form with a battling 6-4, 6-7(3), 7-5 victory over Facundo Bagnis in the championship match on Sunday.
Garin dropped only one set all week to seal his fifth ATP Tour trophy. He became the first Chilean player to win at a home event since Fernando Gonzalez at Vina del Mar in 2009.
“My biggest objective has alway been to keep winning titles, but I was not expecting to win in Chile after the way we started the year,” Garin said. The Chilean missed the Australian Open due to injury, and had to battle coronavirus earlier in the season.
“I always kept on training and staying positive, and I’m so happy that it’s paid off… Of course I miss having a crowd especially while I’m playing at home, but I’m very pleased with this result.”
His opponent Bagnis was in uncharted territory on Cancha Central as the Argentine contested his first ATP Tour final at the age of 31. Bagnis had to go through three seeded players to reach the final, including a major test against Frances Tiafoe in the second round.
“[Weeks like this] give you a sense of gratification that your hard work is paying off and is bearing fruit,” Bagnis said. “Of course, you want more all the time, and I think that’s great. The moment that you don’t want more it’s time to, well, do what you have to do. But I am still working for that ‘more’ and fighting for my goals.”
After playing solidly all week long, one loose service game cost Bagnis late in the first set as Garin got going. The Chilean’s superior speed was on full display, running down every point as Bagnis looked to extend the rallies. The second set was a tighter contest as Garin saw his early lead evaporate and Bagnis increasingly dictating play. The Argentine was regularly rewarded when he ventured to the net, and leveled the score after taking the tie-break.
There was little to separate them in the third set as the 31-year-old Argentine found another gear to keep pace with Garin. Every time the top seed surged ahead, Bagnis reeled him in; Garin broke through first at 4-2, but Bagnis struck back a game later. He had to dig deep as he faced break points at 5-5, but he stayed cool and fired big groundstrokes to seal the break himself at 6-5. After two hours and 35 minutes, Garin fell to the clay in celebration of his first ATP trophy on home soil.
“It was a really tough match,” Garin said. “Finals are never easy… and in the second set it was hard to concentrate. I played the tie-break too passively. But I deserved to win the third set because I had a lot of chances. I wasn’t able to be very aggressive and he played well in the big points, but I looked for my chances. I think the prize was for being there and staying consistent the whole match.”
The victory extended Garin’s record in ATP Tour finals to 5-1, with Santiago marking his fifth consecutive championship match win. All of the Chilean’s titles have come on clay.