Nineteen years after Fernando Verdasco and Nicolas Massu competed for the title at the U.S Clay Court Championship, the 22-year-old Chilean Christian Garin has claimed the title in Houston, defeating Casper Ruud 7-6, 4-6, 6-3 in two and a half hours.
Christian took down Pablo Cuevas, Jeremy Chardy (saved five match points), Henri Laaksonen, Sam Querrey and now the young Norwegian to lift the first ATP trophy, becoming the first ATP champion from Chile since Gonzalez in Vina del Mar in 2009!
Ruud advanced into the first ATP final with a win over Daniel Elahi Galan to become the youngest player in the title match at this event since Andy Roddick in 2002, hoping to follow his father's steps, with Christian Ruud winning the invitational River Oaks event back in 1995.
It wasn't to be for him, though, taking six points less than Christian and with three breaks for each player, pushing each other to the limits from start to finish. Garin saved one of those for the deciding set and that made all the difference, leaving Texas with the biggest title in a career so far and the points that will propel him into the top-50 for the first time on Monday.
As was expected from two players fighting for the maiden ATP trophy, they traded breaks in the opening two games of the match, with Christian who claimed another one in game three after a loose forehand from the Norwegian.
Ruud served better in the rest in the set, wasting three break points at 2-3 before pulling the break back in game eight with a deep return that Garin failed to control. Four good holds later the set went into a tie break and Christian brought it home 7-4 with two mini-breaks, hitting a service winner in that 11th point to move in front in just under an hour.
Casper saved all four break points in the opening two games of the second set, notching a break at 15 at 2-2 and closing the set with a hold in game ten for a 6-4 and a nice chance to go all the way now. In the decider, Garin repelled three break points at 2-2 with some brave hitting and forged the advantage with a forehand winner in the following game that sent him 4-2 up and closer to the finish line.
The Chilean cemented the lead with a backhand down the line winner a few minutes later and completed the triumph after a forced error from Casper in game nine for the first ATP title, six years after he became the first player of his generation with an ATP win.