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By Chris Oddo | Sunday February 17, 2019


Less than 24 hours earlier Diego Schwartzman had whipped the Buenos Aires crowd into a frenzy when he saved a match point and went on to slay top-seeded Dominic Thiem in an intense three-set thriller.

But as the dust settled on Sunday it was only Schwartzman who was whipped, by the better player on this day.

Italy’s Marco Cecchinato stole away with a jaw-dropping 6-1 6-2 win for his third career title in as many finals, reminding clay-court tennis fans once again that his trip to the Roland Garros semi-finals in 2018 was not quite the fluke that many still make it out to be.

Cecchinato has never dropped a set in an ATP final and on Sunday he brought his very best from start to finish against the diminutive yet mighty Argentine. The Italian never faced a break point and dropped a mere eight points on serve.


The 26-year-old didn’t drop a set all week and finished the tournament leading all players in second-serve points won (63 %) and second-serve return points won (64 %).

Cecchinato reeled off seven consecutive games from 1-1 in the opener and never looked back.

The pro-Argentinean crowd had high hopes that their favorite could turn the final into a contest but Cecchinato’s first-strike tennis was relentless. He struck his backhand down the line with menace and rarely missed his mark.

"I was able to play a great match and was always focused. I followed the game plan from the beginning to the end," said Cecchinato, according to ATPWorldtour.com.

The Italian will rise to a career-high ranking of 17 in the world, up one spot, in Monday’s ATP rankings as a result of his title.

Schwartzman had a great week in Buenos Aires despite the loss. He reached his first career final on home soil and also played the doubles final with Dominic Thiem (the pair fell to Horacio Zeballos and Maximo Gonzalez in the final).

“He didn't let me do anything today," Schwartzman said of Cecchinato’s smothering performance.

With his triumph the Italian becomes the first player from his country to raise the trophy in Buenos Aires since Nicolas Pietrangeli in 1965.

 

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