The 23-year-old Cristian Garin will make a top-20 debut on Monday after winning the fourth ATP title in less than a year, beating a qualifier Gianluca Mager 7-6, 7-5 to complete a perfect week and continue where he left in Cordoba a couple of weeks ago.
Mager came to Rio de Janeiro with two ATP wins under his belt, qualifying for the main draw and beating world no. 4 Dominic Thiem en route to his first ATP final and the place in the top-80, defeating Attila Balazs in three tight sets in rain-delay semis before falling on the last hurdle.
Garin had to finish the semi-final duties against Borna Coric before embracing another fierce clash for the crown, taking five points more than Mager and fending off four out of six break chances. On the other hand, Gianluca lost 19 out of 27 points behind the second serve, dropping serve three times from ten opportunities given to Garin who prevailed in the closing stages of both sets to seal the deal in straight sets and avoid a decider.
Cristian grabbed a break in the first game with a backhand down the line return winner, suffering a break in game six when Mager landed a volley winner to keep the Italian on the positive side of the scoreboard, facing two more break chances at 3-4.
The Chilean fended off both and claimed the tie break 7-3 with an ace. Gianluca found the rhythm on the return in the third game of the second set to earn a break at love, fending off three break chances in the sixth game with some brave hitting to remain in front, closing the eighth game with a service winner and serving for the set at 5-4.
The nerves started to show up and Garin broke back at 15 following a forehand error from a qualifier, with the better-ranked player opening a 6-5 gap after an ace in game 11. The momentum was on his side now and he used it nicely, breaking Mager at 15 to rattle off four straight games and 16 out of 20 points that propelled him over the top, celebrating the first ATP 500 title for Chile since Kitzbuhel 2004 when Nicolas Massu went all the way.