Victor Hanescu became the first Romanian since Ilie Nastase in 1973 to capture the Allianz Suisse Open Gstaad title, after defeating No. 7 seed Igor Andreev of Russia 6-3, 6-4 for his maiden ATP crown last week. Match Report
The 26-year-old is the eighth player this season to have saved match points en route to an ATP title. He saved three match points in a 6-7(4), 7-6(3), 7-6(11) victory over Ivo Karlovic of Croatia in the second round.
Hanescu is the first Romanian winner of an ATP title since Andrei Pavel clinched the 2001 ATP Masters Series Canada (Montreal) trophy (d. Rafter).
ATPtennis.com caught up with the Bucharest resident after his maiden triumph.
You saved three match points in the second round over Karlovic. Did you ever think you would go on winning your first ATP title?
It was a very difficult and a very close match against Karlovic. I was lucky, but the win gave me confidence. My win over a Top 10 player such as Stanislas Wawrinka in the semifinals was a great moment. It was really important for me.
You won only five ATP matches this year coming into Gstaad. What did you do differently this week?
After Wimbledon I felt my game was getting better and I went home for one week to practice on clay. I came to Gstaad thinking I would play good tennis and raise my standard of play. Of course I was lucky against Karlovic, but everything thereafter went much better.
You reached a career-high No. 35 in the December 2005, how would you compare you are playing now?
I think I am very close to that level. I played very solid in the Gstaad final and I think that was similar to 2005.
You have had your best results thus far on clay, what do you consider your strengths on the surface?
My favorite surface is clay, as I grew up on the surface. I know how to play the game really well on it. I think my serve is good and my groundstrokes from the baseline also allow me to build points.
When did you know that you would become a professional tennis player?
First of all my parents told me to play basketball, as they felt at six-and-a-half I was too young to play tennis. On my way back home, I saw some tennis courts and decided to play. When I was 18, I won the national championships and that is when I realised I could be a good player.
Were there any players you admired when you were growing up?
My idol was Pete Sampras and I watched all of his major matches. He really inspired me to compete. Ilie Nastase, a legend in Romania, also inspired me a great deal.