Ivashka, Ymer are first-time finalists

August 27, 2021 11:08 PM

It was the first team final for Marcelo Arevalo and Matwe Middlekoop in the 2021 Winston-Salem Open doubles championship match.

The pair had a rocky week, saving three match points in the first round and another in the quarterfinals.

Friday, they rallied from a set down wrestling the momentum away from doubles veteran Ivan Dodig and his first-time parnter Austin Krajicek to take the match in the super tiebreaker, 6-7, 7-5, 10-6.

The unseeded team owned their service games winning 84% of their first serve points and converting at key moments.

“I feel amazing. The match was all over the place. I’m still processing it,” said Middelkoop. “We had some hard morements this week, but we bounced back. The future looks very bright.”

Belarusian Ilya Ivashka could say the same about his future, as he booked his first spot in an ATP Tour final, dominating his opponent, Emil Ruusuvuori of Finland, 6-2, 6-1 in just more than an hour on Stadium Court.

“I think in general I played really well. I served well, and it was about the serve and the first shot.”

The 27-year-old has dropped only one set all week, and that was to former U.S. Open Champion Marin Cilic in the second round. Ivashka says he feels comfortable in Winston-Salem.

“It’s amazing to play with a full crowd. I love these guys. The support has been awesome. We have been playing a lot of empty stadiums, so I enjoy this much more.”

Max Mirniy was the last Belarusian man to win an ATP title, and it was in 2003.

Mikael Ymer is trying to be the first man from his country win an ATP title since Robin Soderling in 2011. The Swede backed up his Thursday night come-from-behind win over American Frances Tiafoe.

Friday, he again overcame an early match deficit to the Spanish teen star, Carlos Alcaraz, to win seven straight games, sealing the first set and giving him a solid lead in the second. Ultimately, Ymer scored a tidy victory in one hour and 15 minutes, 7-5, 6-1.

Ymer attributes his victory to his consistency. “With the toolbox that I have, and the way that he plays; that’s really the only option I had. [Alcaraz] hits so big.”

The Swedish No. 1 says he has been comfortable on the courts at the Wake Forest Tennis Complex for the duration of the week.

“I love the atmosphere here. I also really like the people working with the tournament. I feel very welcomed here,” Ymer added.

This is the first time in the Winston-Salem Open’s history it will showcase two first-time ATP Tour finalists. 

Saturday’s match begins at 5 p.m. The Tennis Channel will broadcast it live.