Ignatik Edges Rublev in Rennes Challenger Final

by John on January 29, 2017

Lucky loser Uladzimir Ignatik of Belarus edged NextGen teenage star Andrey Rublev 6-7 (6), 6-3, 7-6 (5) in the final of the Rennes Challenger Sunday afternoon. Ignatik lost in the final round of the qualifiers last Sunday, but was the lucky pick into the main draw when Enrique Lopz-Perez withdrew. The title was the 26-year-old Ignatik’s fourth Challenger crown and first since October of 2012. Many only know of Ignatik for his ignominious distinction of being on the receiving end of the fastest recorded serve ever – Sam Groth’s 163-mph ace at the Busan Challenger five years ago this May. However, in addition to his four Challenger titles, Ignatik has 16 Futures titles on his resume. Clearly he knows how to win. Today’s match was a real cliffhanger with the outcome in the balance until the final point. Both players served big and engaged in punishing rallies from the baseline. If there was any real difference it was that Ignatik came to the net more often and ended points quicker. Ignatik had 27 aces to 21 for Rublev. There were no breaks of serve in the opening set, with the only chances coming on Rublev’s serve. The 19-year-old Russian saved a break point in both the ninth and 11th games. Rublev served aces on his first three service points in the tie-break and led 4-1 after capturing a mini-break on the third point. Mini-breaks occurred on the eighth, 10th and 12th points with Ignatik garnering two of the three to get back on serve. The Belarusian stumbled, though, serving a double fault at 6-7 to cede the set to Rublev. Ignatik bounced right back, serving four aces in the opening game of the second set and breaking in the second before racing out to a 4-1 lead. With Ignatik serving for the set at 5-3, Rublev put up strong resistance, forcing five break-point opportunities, but the Belarusian erased all five to level the match at a set apiece. Rublev broke for a 2-0 advantage in the third set, but was broken back in the fifth game. Service prevailed from there to force another tiebreaker. Ignatik captured a mini-break on the first point, but gave it right back on the second. Serving at 5-6, Rublev overcooked a high forehand volley and slammed his racket on the court. It was over and Ignatik was victorious in two hour and 17 minutes. The Belorusian won 82 percent of his first service points and saved five of six break points. Rublev won 75 percent of his first serves and defended six of eight break points. Both move on to compete at the Quimper Challenger, also in France, starting tomorrow.

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