Sousa Becomes First Portuguese Native To Win ATP World Tour Title On Home Soil

Joao Sousa (photo: Millennium Estoril Open)

WASHINGTON, May 6, 2018 (by Michael Dickens)

João Sousa became the first Portuguese player to win an ATP World Tour title on home soil on Sunday afternoon – and he celebrated with his parents in attendance on Mother’s Day in Portugal.

The 68th-ranked Sousa won his first ATP World Tour title of the year – and third of his career – as he defeated Frances Tiafoe of the United States, 6-4, 6-4, to capture the ATP 250 Millennium Estoril Open in Estoril, Portugal.

For nearly three decades, the ATP World Tour has visited tennis-rich Portugal without a Portuguese native lifting an ATP World Tour trophy in celebration. The drought ended with Sousa’s triumph over Tiafoe. Sousa showed much emotion during the on-court trophy presentation.

A 29-year-old native of Guimarães, Sousa was steady throughout the 1 hour and 19 minute final played under a bright sunshine on the red clay of Estadio Millennium. He finished with four service aces, won 26 of 34 (76 percent) first-serve points and saved four of six break points he faced. Meanwhile, the 64th-ranked Tiafoe, who was aiming for his second ATP 250 title of the season – and attempting to be the first American to win a title on European clay since 2010 – committed five double faults, had difficulty winning his points on his second serve (just 9 of 21), and was broken four times by Sousa. Tiafoe was outpointed by Sousa, 59-53.

“I didn’t feel great today. I just got outplayed. I left a lot of balls short and didn’t play near as well as I was playing this week. He took advantage and was able to play how he wanted to. It was tough. I couldn’t get anything going,” Tiafoe said.

With his first tour-level title victory since 2015 in Valencia, Sousa will move up to No. 48 when the new ATP rankings are updated on Monday thanks to winning 250 rankings points in Estoril to go along with first-prize earnings of 89,435 euros.

“It’s just amazing. It’s a dream come true,” Sousa said. “It is very special for a Portuguese player to win here on home soil. I know how hard the organisation worked to make this tournament one of the best in the world and it’s just amazing. The crowd was unbelievable.”

The #NextGenATP star Tiafoe, 20, who upset defending champion Pablo Carreño Busta in the semifinals, will move up to No. 53. He’s also up to No. 3 in the #NextGen ATP Race to Milan.

Great Britain duo wins doubles

The British duo of Kyle Edmund and Cameron Norrie won their first ATP World Tour doubles title without dropping a set in Estoril. Edmund and Norrie defeated Wesley Koolhof of the Netherlands and Artem Sitak of New Zealand, who have reached three ATP World Tour finals this year, 6-4, 6-2.

Edmund had never reached a doubles final at any level before Estoril and is unranked. Norrie, ranked No. 617 in the ATP doubles rankings, had never previously played doubles at a tour-level event. However, the pair’s victory on Sunday was worth 250 points.

Edmund and Norrie broke their opponents four times and saved four of five break points they faced en route to their straight-set victory in 70 minutes.