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First 500 Title for Pablo Carreno Busta, Anderson Triumphs at Hall of Fame Open in Newport

Pablo Carreno Busta won his sixth career title and first 500-level championship. EPA-EFE/CAROLINE BLUMBERG

By Ricky Dimon

By the standards of a former top 10 player who has reached two Grand Slam semifinals and the quarters of two other slams, it was a bit surprising that Pablo Carreno Busta had never won more than an ATP 250 title.

That all changed on Sunday at the Hamburg European Open.

Already a five-time titleist on tour, Carreno Busta won an ATP 500 tournament for the first time in his career by beating Filip Krajinovic 6-2, 6-4 in the Hamburg final. The 30-year-old Spaniard did not face a single break point, won 81 percent of his first-serve points, and converted all three of his break chances to triumph in one hour and 22 minutes.

“I felt very comfortable during the whole week from the first match,” Carreno Busta commented. “I think that I played very [well] and I continued improving during the week. That’s very important and today in the final I probably played the best match of the tournament.”

“It’s an incredible feeling. I think that I worked very, very hard to finally win this title. It’s my first ATP 500 title.”

Kevin Anderson won his first title since 2019 in Newport. EPA-EFE/RHONA WISE

At the Hall of Fame Open in Newport, lifting the trophy was nowhere near one of Kevin Anderson’s top career milestones. But it was an especially significant achievement given all of the injury issues he has endured since reaching his second major final at Wimbledon in 2018. Anderson, struggling down at No. 113 in the world, earned his first title since Pune in January of 2019 with a 7-6(8), 6-4 victory over Jenson Brooksby on Sunday afternoon.

In the final grass-court match of 2021, Anderson fired 16 aces, saved all three of the break points he faced, and won 80 percent of his first-serve points.

“It’s been a pretty tough run with some injuries,” the 35-year-old South African said. “But to be back here at the International Tennis Hall of Fame with such history, this couldn’t be a better week for me to start my comeback. I’m very motivated to get back. But it all starts with each match, and I was able to really grind it out.”

Casper Ruud ruled Bastad. EPA-EFE/SEBASTIEN NOGIER

At the Nordea Open, meanwhile, Casper Ruud got back to the grind on his beloved clay and rolled to the title without dropping a set all week long. Ruud defeated Federico Coria 6-3, 6-3 in Sunday’s championship. The 22-year-old Norwegian did not play on set in Bastad more competitive than 6-4 and only one was closer than 6-3.

“It was an incredible week; maybe the best week of my life,” said Ruud, who is now 3-2 lifetime in ATP finals (all five at clay-court 250s). “It is an incredible feeling playing here in Bastad with the Swedish, Norwegian and Danish support. There is nothing like that home crowd feeling.

“To win here means a lot. You get a little extra nervous as the No. 1 seed. Me and my father (former world No. 39 Christian Ruud) have been joking about when I am going to beat him at this and this, and now I think I have beaten him in everything. The Ruud family can finally bring the trophy home to Norway. It is a special feeling having him here with me.”

The clay-court swing continues this coming week in Gstaad and Umag, while the summer hard-court season gets underway in Los Cabos.

Ricky contributes to10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.