Denolly Edges Zhurbin at Hong Kong in Last Match of 2017 Tennis Season

by John on December 31, 2017

Frenchman Corentin Denolly has the distinction of winning the last point in the last match of the 2017 men’s professional tennis season. Yes, the season is finally officially over. The 20-year old Denolly edged Russian Alexander Zhurbin 7-6 (5), 6 -7 (3), 6-3 in the final of the Hong Kong F5 Futures yesterday. Denolly, a former world No. 3 on the junior circuit (2015), won for the third time on the Futures tour. He also won the Belgian F4 Futures earlier this year and the Slovakia F1 Futures in 2016. The 6-foot-1 Frenchman, whose favorite surface is clay, surprisingly hasn’t looked to model his game after other notable French players such as Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Gael Monfils or Richard Gasquet. His idol since the beginning has been another left-hander — Rafael Nadal. “I try to play like Nadal because he’s lefty,” Denolly said. In fact Denolly got to play the role of Nadal during the Monte Carlo Masters as a 17-year-old in 2015. Against Novak Djokovic, no less. “I was there and I have a warmup session with Novak Djokovic before his semifinal against Nadal,” Denolly said. “He was looking for a lefty to play like Nadal, and he beat Rafa when I warm up with him. It was strange, but it was a good experience to play with Djokovic.” Yesterday’s match was nip and tuck all the way and lasted two hours and 40 minutes. Each player broke twice in the opening set, Zhurbin in the 3rd and 9th games and Denolly in the 4th and 6th. Denolly, ranked No. 444 , took the tiebreaker with mini-breaks on the second and seventh points after surrendering one of his own on the fifth. The Frenchman broke in the third game of the second set, but was broken back in the sixth to force another tiebreaker. Zhurbin raced to a 5-0 lead courtesy of mini-breaks on the second and third points, gave one back on the eighth and won the tie-break with another mini-break on the 10th. Denolly broke at 15 in the fourth game of the final set and that was all he needed to capture the title. He served three aces to none for Zhurbin and saved four of seven break points, while the Russian defended two of six. Denolly won 110 points, Zhurbin 108.

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