Laslo Djere, the 23-year-old Serbian, surprised the sensation of the tournament, Canadian Félix Auger-Aliassime, and won the first title of his career at the Rio Open presented by Claro this Sunday at the Jockey Club Brasileiro, 6/3 7/5, in 2 hours. Very emotional, Djere dedicated the title to his parents, who already passed away.
“I lost my mother seven years ago and I want to dedicated this to her, and also to my dad, I lost him two months ago. My parents have been the reason I’m here today and I hope they are watching me now”, said during his speech.
With the campaign in Rio de Janeiro, Djere adds 500 points and US$ 1.402.200 in prize money. He will make a Top 40 on Mondays ranking with the title, his best career position. He arrived in Rio as World No.91. Runner-up Auger-Aliassime is projected to move inside the Top 60 and will be the youngest player in ATP Top 100. He arrived in Rio as World No.104. He received US$ 704.235 in prize money and 300 points.
The new champion Djere started his week in Rio defeating number 1 seed and 2017 champion Dominic Thiem. Then he defeated Taro Daniel and #NextGenATP Casper Ruud and earned a spot at his first ever ATP Tour final after his opponent, Aljaz Bedene, withdrew from the semifinals with an injured right leg. He received the trophy, created by the jewelry designer Antônio Bernardo, from the hands of the 3-time French Open champion Gustavo Kuerten.
“When I got here, I did not think I would win the tournament, especially after the draw came out and I knew I would face Thiem in the first match, but I did a good training and I thought I could do well. I hope this title is the beginning of a tennis story for me”, said the player, who spoke during the week about compatriot Novak Djokovic, world number 1. “It’s a great inspiration for me. I grew up seeing him play and wondering if he could ever be playing big tournaments either.”
In the final match, Djere breaking Auger-Aliassime service, but lost his serve right after that. But then he broke back again and raised the level of his game to close the first set in 6/3. In the second set, the Canadian tried to fight back , supported by the fans who ‘adopted’ him since the first round, and had a 3-1 lead. But Djere raised his game again, pressed the nervous Felix, and close the second set in 7/5 after five match points, to claim his first title without dropping a set during the whole tournament. “It was a difficult game, emotionally and physically. Felix is talented and I’m sure he will win many trophies in the future.”
Auger-Aliassime was disappointed with the loss and how he played, especially in the serving game, but give all the credits to Djere for the win. “Obviously today was tougher, especially my second serve fell apart for some reason and had been serving well for the whole tournament. It’s a little bit disappointing because obviously I was playing for the title and it was big for me. But at the same time I’m not gonna lose to much sleep for this loss. I done good things this week and I’m gonna stick with the positives.”
The 18-years-old Canadian had the best week of his young career. He received a wild card for the main draw and defeated in the first round the number 2 seed, Italian Fábio Fognini. Then he got past by Christian Garin (7/5 e 6/4), Jaume Munar (6/4 e 6/3) and in the semifinals the experienced Uruguayan and 2016 champion, Pablo Cuevas (6/3, 3/6 e 6/3). “It was one of the most special tournaments that I played. And having Guga in the audience in the final, a great inspiration, it was special. I will continue working and hope to return next year” said Auger-Aliassime.
The final was the first match between the two players. Laslo Djere is now the sixth champion of Rio Open history, joining Diego Schwartzman (2018), Dominic Thiem (2017), Pablo Cuevas (2016), David Ferrer (2015) and Rafael Nadal (2014). The Rio Open is part of the ATP World Tour, which brings together 13 tournaments of this size and only three on clay, alongside Barcelona and Hamburg.
DJERE CAMPAIGN EN ROUTE TO THE TITLE:
1st Round: Fabio Fognini – 6/2, 6/3
2nd Round: Christian Garin – 7/5, 6/4
Quarterfinal: Jaume Munar – 6/4, 6/3
Semifinal: Pablo Cuevas – 6/3, 3/6, 6/3
Final: Felix Auger-Aliassime – 6/3, 7/5
RIO OPEN SINGLE CHAMPIONS:
2019 – Laslo Djere (SRB)
2018 – Diego Schwartzman (ARG)
2017 – Dominic Thiem (AUT)
2016 – Pablo Cuevas (URU)
2015 – David Ferrer (ESP)
2014 – Rafael Nadal (ESP)