SKOPJE, June 5, 2021
Alexis Gautier and Ryan Nijboer will compete in Sunday’s singles final of the Skopje Open, an ITF World Tennis Tour M15 event held at the Tennis Klub Jug, nestled in the City Park. Both players came back from a set down in their respective semi-final matches to reach the climax of North Macedonia’s biggest tennis tournament.
Gautier knocked out World No. 410 and top seed Miljan Zekic of Serbia 3-6, 6-4, 6-4 on a sunny and hot, 30-degree Celsius Saturday afternoon in Skopje. The No. 6 seed from France converted five of his seven break-point chances to seal victory in two hours and 22 minutes.
“I started two weeks ago, when I was supposed to play a tournament in Croatia but I decided to take a week off and train with my coach to get back on track and I think it is working well. I am happy with this,” said Gautier, who is based at the All In Tennis Academy in Paris of Thierry Ascione and arrived in Skopje following a run to the semi-finals at the ITF World Tennis Tour M15 tournament in Bucharest, Romania last week.
The 24-year-old Levallois native is currently ranked World No. 548, five places below his personal career high. “I don’t have any goals in terms of ranking positions,” Gautier said, but added: “I don’t have any points to defend in the next month, so I know that every win will help to improve my ranking. This motivates me.”
Later in the day, Nijboer stopped the run of Czech teenager Dalibor Svrcina, who captured his first title on the Pro Circuit on home soil in Most last week. The 21-year-old from the Netherlands won 13 points less than his three years younger rival but prevailed after two hours and 32 minutes.
Gautier, who stated that staying in Skopje feels like being on vacation, is bidding for his second title on the ITF World Tennis Tour following his maiden triumph in Uriage, France in July 2019. World No. 696 Nijboer could lift his first trophy. The pair will meet for the first time.
In other action, US-American Martin Damm and Robin Stanek from the Czech Republic clinched their first team title. The top favourites of the doubles draw defeated second seeded Dutchmen Max Houkes and Sidane Pontjodikromo from the Netherlands 6-2, 7-6(5). The encounter lasted one hour and 15 minutes.