RENNES, January 25, 2020
Local favourite Arthur Rinderknech and James Ward of Great Britain will compete in Sunday’s singles final of the Open Blot Rennes. The 24-year-old Frenchman delighted his enthusiastic home crowd at Le Liberté Arena in Rennes with a 6-4, 2-6, 6-3 victory over German veteran Tobias Kamke.
Rinderknech struggled with an injury and took a medical time-out in the opening set, but seemed to overcome his physical issue pretty well. The World No. 329 fired 17 aces and won 68 per cent of his first-service points to prevail after one hour and 54 minutes.
#OBR20 La balle de match d’Arthur Rinderknech !
Un service trop puissant pour son adversaire et c’est la finale qui s’ouvre devant Arthur. Un énorme bravo au public présent. @metropolerennes @TVR35 @TennisActu @WeAreTennisFR pic.twitter.com/6EngBQRTAS
— Open Blot Rennes (@OpenBlotRennes) January 25, 2020
“It’s beautiful to play in such an atmosphere, with the spectators behind you. We don’t often get a chance to experience moments like this. The top 100 in the world know how it is, but we don’t. I tried to make the most out of it. If I won today, it is really thanks to the crowd, who pushed me,” Rinderknech said after reaching his maiden final on the ATP Challenger Tour.
“It was pretty hard at the beginning of the match, as I felt pain in the abs and I was having trouble while serving. The physiotherapist did his magic. I managed to forget the pain, it was great.”
Ward returns to Challenger final
Earlier on Saturday, Ward fought past No. 3 seed Danilo Petrovic, winning 7-6(7), 7-6(4). The World No. 313 withstood 26 aces from the Serbian and won six points more to advance after one hour and 35 minutes.
“We both played very well and served at good level. It was a match, where you only have a few opportunities and the tie-break is always a lottery. Today I was the winner of the match, but it could also have easily been him,” Ward told Tennis TourTalk.
“I didn’t play a lot last year, as I had some problems with my knee and I think my ranking doesn’t really reflect my level of tennis. I feel like I am moving better again but I am also getting older. I have to use my weapons, my serve. I did that pretty well this week and used my chances.”
Ward opened his season in Australia being part of team Great Britain at the inaugural ATP Cup.
“It was a different start into the season for me but the ATP Cup was a really great event. The team in the corner was amazing and it was a really good atmosphere for the players,” the 32-year-old from London said. “I was obviously supporting but I was ready to play if I had to. But the guys made a great job and played really well. We were close to get into the semis. Overall it was a tough time in Australia, difficult with the bushfires. It was terrible to see people struggling and losing their homes. Fortunately, we weren’t affected to much in Sydney.”
Following the team event, Ward moved on to Bendigo but fell in the opening round of qualifying to the ATP Challenger event.
“I felt a bit sick during the ATP Challenger and flew back to London. I arrived here in Rennes on Sunday night. Sometimes it’s a bit difficult when you come to Europe. Here is only one main Court, which makes it a bit difficult to practice. I didn’t want to be here too early. I didn’t want to waste too much time in the hotel. I practiced on Saturday night in London and came here pretty late. I played here last year, although the venue has changed but everything has worked out pretty well for me so far.”
Ward has reached his first ATP Challenger final since finishing runner-up to Australia’s Alexei Popyrin at Jinan in China in August 2018. While Rinderknech is seeking his maiden crown, the former World No. 89 could lift his fifth career trophy, his first since Bangalore Challenger 2015. The pair will meet for the first time.
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Sunday’s action will start with the doubles final when top seeds Antonio Sancic of Croatia and Tristan-Samuel Weissborn of Austria will take on Russian veteran Teymuraz Gabashvili and Lukas Lacko from Slovakia.