Rio de Janeiro | Baez sweeps countryman aside for title

At the penultimate stage of the South American swing of clay court events in Rio de Janeiro, Argentina’s Sebastian Baez claimed the Rio Open title in dominant fashion by defeating his countryman Mariano Navone in 89-minutes and dropping just three games.

Amazing, amazing, but I want more for sure. Sebastian Baez

For the 23-year-old Baez, seeded five, the ATP 500 level event trophy is the biggest title and fifth of his career, as he snuffed out his compatriot, a qualifier on an excellent run, 6-2 6-1.

“Amazing, amazing. All week I felt so good here in Rio. I said before, I liken [it to] home because of the crowd, the people, everything,” a happy Baez said following his victory. “In the preseason I did one week here, so I know this place, I know the people and I enjoyed [all my] time inside and outside the court.”

The 22-year-old Navone arrived in Brazil having never recorded a win on the ATP Tour but made an immediate impact by battling past his Argentine colleague Federico Coria in three sets, which he followed that up with another three setter to dispatch Germany’s Yannik Hanfmann and then the new Brazilian rising star, youngster Joao Fonseca, again in three,

To reach the final, he defeated the defending champion and second seed, the ailing Briton Cameron Norrie 6-4 6-2 earning him the respect of the Brazilian crowd, which supported him until the end.

But the more experienced Baez proved too solid on the red clay. He raced to a 4-0 lead before Navone could respond but the younger player couldn’t make an impact on his opponent who broke him six time from 14 chances.

“I think it’s so important because in your first final you’ll be more nervous, of course,” Baez said. “I think I did so well in the start in both sets, so I think that was the key.”

Baez will climb to a career-high of. 21 when the new rankings are announced on Monday while Navone is expected to break into the top 100 for the first time in his career.

For Baez, though is just the start as he declared: “Amazing, amazing, but I want more for sure.”


Sebastian Baez and compatriot Mariano Navone show off their trophies.

(Photo by Daniel Castelo Branco/Eurasia Sport Images/Getty Images)




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