Two years ago, Albert Ramos-Vinolas had battled in the final of Monte Carlo Masters against Rafael Nadal, never finding that form again and even struggling to stay in the top-100 recently. The Spaniard had a mediocre 2018 season highlighted with one ATP final and the first half of 2019 wasn't much better, leaving Wimbledon with just 14 ATP wins on his belt and already playing Challengers to seek both triumphs and points.
In the last three weeks, Albert has played his best tennis in quite a while, losing in the semi-final in Perugia Challenger and the ATP 250 event in Bastad, entering Gstaad with confidence and hoping for an even better result.
It certainly came at this picturesque event in Switzerland, scoring five wins in straight sets to lift the second title in a career after Bastad 2016 and improving the ranking position for the first time in months. In the final, Ramos-Vinolas took down world no.
455 Cedrik-Marcel Stebe who arrived in Gstaad with no ATP wins since the US Open 2017, playing on a very high level to enter the first ATP final and losing it 6-3, 6-2 in an hour and 21 minutes, with the Spaniard proving to be too tough to handle.
Ramos-Vinolas played well on both the first and second serve, saving four out of five break points and taking almost half of the return points for four breaks from seven opportunities, enough to propel him over the finish line.
The match kicked off after a few hours of the rain delay and they needed some time to find the rhythm, with a left-handed German securing a break at 15 in the first game following a forehand error from the Spaniard. Albert broke back in game two when Stebe's drop shot failed to reach the net, saving a couple of break chances in game five and breaking for the second time in the next game when Cedrik-Marcel's forehand landed long to forge a 4-2 advantage.
An incredible forehand down the line winner pushed Ramos-Vinolas 5-2 up and he closed the opener with another good attack in the ninth game for a 6-3. The Spaniard broke at the beginning of the second set with a backhand slice winner, holding at 15 in the next game and cementing the victory with a drop shot winner in game three that sent him 6-3, 3-0 in front.
Serving for the title at 5-2, Albert sealed the deal with another solid hold following a forehand error from Stebe, celebrating the first title in three years and hoping for more of the same in Kitzbuhel next week, in the last ATP tournament on clay in 2019.