Unseeded Laurynas Grigelis takes Comerica Bank Challenger title
By VIDUR MALIK
Posted: 07/18/2011 04:16:14 PM PDT
APTOS - Laurynas Grigelis woke up Sunday wondering whether he would be able to play in the final of the Comerica Bank Challenger.
He was still fatigued from a grueling, three-set win over No. 1 seed Igor Kunitsyn in the semifinals Saturday, but Andrea Stoppini - Grigelis' coach for the Challenger - told him Sunday's final would be less strenuous than the previous round.
Those words proved prophetic, as the 19-year-old Lithuanian won 6-2, 7-6  over No. 7 seed Ilija Bozoljac to win the Challenger.
It was the first title of the summer for the unseeded Grigelis, who took home $14,400 in prize money.
"Andrea told me, 'Don't worry. Today's going to be a different match because [against Kunitsyn] we played a lot of rallies ...'" Grigelis said. "And with [Bozoljac], he has a big serve so the rallies were smaller and we played just three, four balls in one point."
Grigelis matched Bozoljac's serve with his own, as both players showcased their power throughout the match.
Bozoljac took the opening game, but Grigelis won the next five - including a service break to go up 4-1 - and held serve the entire first set.
Grigelis said he was able to capitalize on Bozoljac's mistakes in his service game in the first set.
"When you break this guy, [with his] big serve, you're more confident," Grigelis said.
In a much closer second set, Bozoljac's serve was more effective, and he used it to catch Grigelis out of position to create scoring opportunities.
He said he was forced to deviate from his initial game plan of playing on the baseline and move closer to the net during rallies. Both the breeze and the tennis balls - which Bozoljac said got worn out early on in the match - made it tough for him to follow his strategy, he said. It worked, as the two played a much more even set and traded games.
"My plan was to play longer points ... but, for some reason, I couldn't do it," Bozoljac said. "Because it was a little bit windy, I struggled a little bit with the balls and I just could not find really the game that I wanted to play, so I needed to change."
With the second set tied 5-5, Bozoljac easily won a game to go up 6-5, but for the second straight match, Grigelis forced and won a tiebreak.
The first few points of the tiebreaker were close, with both players firing hard serves past the net. Down 5-4, Bozoljac received a serve and felt it was long. The serve was ruled in, and Bozoljac complained to the umpire immediately after the call.
Right after that point, Grigelis hit another serve that Bozoljac could not return, giving him the set and the match.
Bozoljac continued voicing his displeasure about the serve call after the match ended. He was gracious in defeat, but made it clear that he was not happy with the ruling.
"I was 100 percent sure that that serve went out, and so was 90 percent of the crowd," Bozoljac said. "This is one of the very last points in the match, so there is no place for a mistake, I think, from the referee's side."
Whether or not that particular offering was fair, Grigelis knew his serve was one of the keys to his championship performance.
"I never served like this in all the tournament," Grigelis said. "This is the first day that I served so good and I think that's what made me win today."