Lukas Rosol got a few big breaks on his way to the Winston-Salem Open final, and a few more in winning his first ATP Tour title of the year.
The Czech rallied from a set down Saturday to beat Poland’s Jerzy Janowicz 3-6, 7-6 (3), 7-5 in the championship match at the Wake Forest Tennis Center.
"I’m tired, but I’m pretty happy for the result," said Rosol, who will see his ATP world ranking rise to a career-best No. 27 entering next week’s U.S. Open. "I didn’t start good, but I finished strong.
"Jerzy has a big game with some big shots, but I just focused on my game when I was serving. On his serve, I really had no chances … until the end of the match when he gave me a chance."
Janowicz had a chance to win the match in the 10th game of the third set. Ahead 5-4, he pulled ahead 40-15, but Rosol twice saved match points on his serve, then battled through three game points of his own before winning to even the match at 5-all.
"It happens," said Janowicz, who was playing in his second career ATP final and first in two years. "I didn’t do anything stupid, he just played a lot better. I was a little bit unlucky here."
That game swung the match’s momentum Rosol’s way, and he capitalized on the shift. Rosol quickly broke Janowicz’s serve to take a 6-5 advantage, and pulled ahead 40-15 in the final game before closing it out with his 12th ace of the match for his second career ATP Tour title.
"Things changed," said Rosol, whose first title came last year in Bucharest, Romania. "If you have a chance (to win) and don’t do it, you’re mentally down. You start thinking it’s already over, and he wasn’t totally together with his legs and head.
"If he makes the big shots, he’s the champion. But he was probably thinking about that. In that moment, all I wanted to do was play solid. I didn’t have to go for a big shot."
Fatigue may have played a role, as well. Janowicz was playing his sixth match in as many days and fourth to go three sets, while Rosol had won five matches, but two were injury defaults — against Ryan Harrison of the U.S. in the second round, and over top-seeded and two-time champ John Isner in the quarterfinals.
"He really only played three matches," Janowicz said. "That’s a huge difference. But it happens. Lukas got a couple of walkovers. It happens.
"This is not my first final, and hopefully not my last final. I played some good tennis, but I was a little unlucky here."
Still, Janowicz had the advantage early in Saturday’s final, breaking Rosol’s serve twice in winning the first set and only losing 13 total points on his serve over the second and third sets. But three of those lost points came during the second-set tiebreaker, and four more during the momentum-shifting service break in the third set.
"I kept telling myself, `This (losing a final) is not going to happen three times in a row,’" said Rosol, who had lost ATP finals in Bucharest last April and in Stuttgart, Germany, last month. "I really wanted to have a title this year. I just didn’t know it was going to happen now."