In the youngest U.S Clay Court Championship since 2000 when Fernando Gonzalez and Nicolas Mahut had fought for the title, Christian Garin and Casper Ruud will seek the first ATP title on Sunday in Houston. Garin is through to the second ATP final of the season after Sao Paulo in February, defeating a former finalist and the 8th seed Sam Querrey 7-6, 6-2 in an hour and 23 minutes, moving a win away from becoming the first Chilean champion of this event in 19 years.
Losing just 17 points in ten service games, the youngster defended three out of four break points in the opening set, playing better and better as the match progressed to race over the finish line. Landing in only 47% of the first serve, Sam hit seven aces and seven double faults, losing the edge in his games and playing against no less than 12 break points, suffering three breaks to propel Christian into the final.
The opening set lasted for an hour and it kicked off with a break for Garin who saved a break point in game two to cement the lead and settle into a nice rhythm. Sam fended off five break points in the third game to avoid an even bigger disaster and he broke back in game eight when Christian sent a forehand long to level the score at 4-4 and gain the confidence.
The American repelled two break points in games nine and 11 to reach a tie break that Garin claimed 7-2 after a backhand mistake from Querrey. There was only one player on the court in set number two, with the youngster barely losing a point in his games and breaking at love in game four with a backhand winner for a 3-1.
Returning at 5-2, Garin blasted another backhand winner to seal the deal and cross the finish line in the strongest possible way. More than 20 years after his father Christian won the invitational event at River Oaks, the 20-year-old Casper Ruud will compete in the first ATP final thanks to a 7-5, 6-2 triumph over a qualifier Daniel Elahi Galan in an hour and 32 minutes.
Playing on a high level on both the first and second serve, the Norwegian fended off five out of six break points and claimed 40% of the return points to claim four breaks from seven chances, overcoming a 5-2 deficit in the opener to win 11 of the last 13 games and march into the final.
Elahi Galan converted the fifth break point in the fourth game to open a 3-1 gap, holding at love with a drop shot winner to move 5-2 up and looking good to seal the opener in the best possible way. With no room for errors, Ruud broke back in game nine after a huge forehand mistake from the Colombian that in some way sealed his fate in this encounter.
Casper held at love in games ten and 12, breaking his rival at 5-5 to grab 12 of the last 14 points for a 7-5. Daniel hit a double fault in the third game of the second set to suffer a break and Casper earned another one in game seven, crossing the finish line with three winners in the following game for the place in the maiden ATP final.