After a week that has produced epic matches, huge upsets and more than a few late finishes, just two men are left standing at the Rio Open. But will it be the third seed Cristian Garin or the qualifier Gianluca Mager who claims the title in Rio de Janeiro?
Rio Open Final Prediction
Gianluca Mager vs Christian Garin
Head-to-head: first meeting
Cristian Garin may not be one of the biggest stars in the men’s game, but the Chilean put together a breakout season in 2019, winning titles in Houston and Munich, and he has continued to impress in 2020, particularly on the clay. Already this season, he has won the Cordoba Open, rallying from a set down to beat the top-seeded Diego Schwartzman in the final, and it seems to be only a matter of time before he breaks into the world’s top 20.
Indeed, although there are many who view the French Open as a three-horse race between Rafael Nadal, Dominic Thiem and Novak Djokovic, with the former two the clear favourites, Garin may well believe he can make his presence felt in Paris. He covers the court superbly, with an unerringly accurate forehand and a more than useful serve. In short, his game is tailor made for the clay and he will certainly be one to watch during the European clay-court swing.
Mager, meanwhile, has enjoyed a breakthrough week of his own in Rio. He eased through the qualifying without dropping a set, before beating Argentina Open champion Casper Ruud in straight-sets in the first round. He backed that up by beating fellow qualifier Joao Domingues, 6-3 7-6, to reach the quarterfinals. Then, in what was surely the finest win of his career, he got the better of top seed and world #4 Dominic Thiem, again in straight-sets.
That set up a semifinal clash with lucky loser Attila Balazs, who he had beaten 6-0 6-2 in the final round of qualifying earlier this week. But the Hungarian, who had scored some impressive wins in his own right in the main draw, offered much tougher resistance in the last four in a match played over two days after rain delays. But Mager hung tough in the decisive moments to advance to the first tour-level final of his career a 7-6 4-6 7-6 winner.
Garin, who is ranked 103 places above Mager, will clearly be the favourite coming into this match, all the more so after the Italian’s long semifinal battle with Balazs. But Mager has shown throughout the week in Rio that he is willing and able to go toe-to-toe with some of the world’s best and with neither man having played a final at this level before, nerves could be an issue for both. But Garin has the greater power and variety which should be enough to see him over the line a winner in three close sets.
Prediction: Garin in 3
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