Griekspoor wins maiden ATP World Tour title in Pune pips Bonzi in close final

     Pune, Jan 7 (PTI) Tallon Griekspoor prevailed in a high-voltage three-set final against Benjamin Bonzi to win his maiden ATP World Tour title as the first-time finalists dished out a gripping game of tennis here on Saturday.
     The Netherlands' Griekspoor won the intense Tata Open Maharashtra title clash 4-6 7-5 6-3 against his dogged and higher-ranked French rival in two hours and 16 minutes.
     The two players, playing for the first time against each other at the Tour level, put on a show before a packed centre court at Balewadi Stadium, entertaining the fans with their breathtaking shot-making and perseverance.
     The 26-year-old Griekspoor, who is expected to jump 34 places from 95 to 61 in the ranking charts on Monday after the title-winning performance, said it was indeed a "high quality match".
     "I played one bad game in the first set but I was better player in the second set. I had a good attitude and that helped. He also played a great game. It's first week of the season and no one expects this (winning title) after an off-season," said the Dutch player.
     Griekspoor said he had to make a few adjustments to his game in the final since the ball "flies" in the evening at centre court and he had only one session at that time of the day during the tournament.
     He got a lot of backing from the crowd.
     "I love to play in such atmosphere, that's kind of crowd I play my tennis for," he said adding that his title would mean more to his family as his two brothers also play the game.
     Bonzi is likely to get back to top-50 with a jump of 10 places from his current rank of 60.
     The last time they played, it was Bonzi who emerged the winner on the Challenger circuit in Blois, France in June 2017.
     High-quality tennis opened the match, befitting a finale, with the first nine games going on serve.
     It seemed to be going into the tie-breaker until the Dutch had a meltdown while serving to stay in the set in the 10th game.
     After making a backhand error to lose the first point, Griekspoor served a double fault to be at 0-30. Bonzi then pulled off a screamer of a winner after making a superb service return to earn three breakpoints.
     Feeling the heat, the Dutch double-faulted on the first set point.
     There was no let-up from either player with an intense game of tennis continuing in the second set, in which both raised the level of serving.
     Not many short balls were there to be dispatched for easy winners as deep and powerful return was the order of the day.
     The Frenchman had superb anticipation to go with his incredible stroke-making while the Dutch relied on his angled and wide serves and charged the net at the right time to earn points at key moments.
     Bonzi faced two break points in the seventh game but pulled off big serves under pressure to come unscathed. That was a real chance for Griekspoor to get that elusive break but Bonzi did not let him take advantage, staying solid.
     Bonzi saved one more break chance in the 11th game but could not execute a drop shot on second deuce point from half-the-court, handing his rival another break opportunity.
     A boisterous crowd behind him, Griekspoor slotted a lob perfectly from the baseline, Bonzi chased in vain and the Dutch had his first break of the match as it sent the crowd into a frenzy.
     Coming out serving for the set, Griekspoor too faced a breakpoint when Bonzi placed a service return winner at 30-all but the Dutchman saved that and closed the set with a forehand winner down the line.
     In the decider, it was Bonzi who dropped his serve first in the third game. A low lob winner handed Griekspoor his first break chance and Bonzi helped him with a double fault.
     The Dutch player saved a break chance in the sixth game to keep the lead. In anti-climactic fashion the match ended with two consecutive errors from Bonzi's racquet. He first served a double fault to give Griekspoor his first match point and then hit a shot long.

(This story has not been edited by THE WEEK and is auto-generated from PTI)