07 junio 2008

Horna/Cuevas Surprise Roland Garros Champions

The unseeded duo of Luis Horna of Peru and Pablo Cuevas of Uruguay capped an incredible fortnight at Roland Garros as they beat No. 2 seeds Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic 6-2, 6-3 in 56 minutes in Saturday's championship.

Horna and Cuevas, who were playing together for the first time in a tour-level tournament, defeated four seeds en route to the title, including No. 1 Bob and Mike Bryan in the quarterfinals and No. 7 Arnaud Clement and Michael Llodra in the first round. In their only previous pairing, they won the Montevideo Challenger in November last year.

They became the first South American team to win a Grand Slam doubles crown in the Open Era. The only South American man to capture a Grand Slam doubles title was Ecuador's Andres Gomez, who won the US Open in 1986 (w/Zivojinovic) and Roland Garros in 1988 (w/E. Sanchez). Gomez presented the trophy in the awards ceremony.

They are also the first doubles team to win a Grand Slam title in their Slam debut together since Stephen Huss and Wesley Moodie captured Wimbledon in 2005.

"Well, I think today was one of these days, that you feel on the court like everything is going slow and you have time to think and make the right decisions to get the points," said Horna, who is the first Peruvian man to win a Grand Slam title in the Open Era. "The beginning of the match was very important key for us to start like we did, and from there we were feeling like it was another match, another kind of match. We were not thinking about it was finals of Grand Slam, so we are very happy with that."

"It means a lot. I mean, everybody dreams about playing the big tournaments and doing good, so winning a Grand Slam, the French Open for us South American players is the most important tournament of the year. I don't think right now in this moment we're going to realize how huge this is. Maybe in a couple of weeks or couple of months or couple of years, I don't know. Some day we will figure it out. But right now we are happy and surprised a little bit, also."
The 22-year-old Cuevas was playing in his third career Grand Slam doubles tournament and Horna his 14th. In 13 previous Slam appearances, the 27-year-old Horna had won one match, that coming at Roland Garros last year.

"We started thinking maybe we can win the tournament," said Cuevas, who is the first Uruguayan man to win a Grand Slam title. "But as I said, even during the first round it was very difficult, but we felt good. We felt very supported, yet we were still very far from reaching the final. But after we won against the Bryan brothers, we were full of hope, and this is why for the next match we played probably as well as we used to before that. But it's the match against the Bryans that was decisive."It was Cuevas's first career tour doubles title and Horna's third ATP level title of the season and the sixth of his career.

In Saturday's final, Cuevas and Horna jumped out to a 4-0 lead and never looked back in taking the opening set. In the second set, Nestor was broken in the third game and Horna saved two break points in the next game as the South Americans took a 3-1 lead. Zimonjic lost serve in the final game at 15-40.

Horna and Cuevas converted four of seven break points while saving all three break points they faced on their serve. The dominated the match by winning 58 points to 40.
Horna and Cuevas, who will climb into the Top 10 Stanford ATP Doubles Race, are also in position to qualify for the season-ending Tennis Masters Cup in Shanghai.

Nestor and Zimonjic will move from No. 4 to No. 2 in the Stanford ATP Doubles Race after reaching their Grand Slam final together. Nestor, who won the Roland Garros title last year (w/Knowles), is 3-7 in his career Grand Slam finals. Zimonjic was attempting to capture his first Grand Slam title in his third final. He also was runner-up in Friday's mixed doubles final.

Nota veloz de Wendy Pepper

Estoy bastante contento por la victoria de Lucho y Pablito Cuevas. Por varias razones. Dada la falta de tiempo, diré que es la primera vez que juegan (tal como lo dice el artículo) en pareja en un torneo atp. Por otra parte, están en muy buena posición de clasificar para la Tennis Master Cup Doubles en Shangai. Y por último: Porque Lucho Horna Se Lo Merece. Me alegro muchisimo por ellos.

Hace un par de días, el ex finalista de Wimbledon en dobles y ex jugador argentino, Javier Frana, les dijo: "No se conformen con lo que hicieron hasta ahora [llegar a la final]. Yo sé lo que les digo. Traten de dar lo mejor. Y ojalá que esto sirva para seguir avanzando.