Carlos Alcaraz’ hopes of winning the Winston-Salem Open were dashed by Mikael Ymer on Friday when the Swede beat him in straight sets to advance to a final match against Ilya Ivashka, who dispatched Emil Ruusuvuori in his semi-final.
I feel good physically and mentally and I'm just trying to play my best tennis. I like to play on hard courts, so it's all coming together this week. It is something I have been dreaming of, to get an ATP title, so let's see tomorrow if it happens. Ilya Ivashka
In his first semi-final on the ATP Tour, 22-year old Ymer took out the 15th-seeded Spaniard, 7-5 6-3.
“With toolbox I have and the way he plays, [wearing him down] is more or less the only option, because he’s so aggressive,” Ymer said. “I think I executed the plan pretty well.”
The World No 90 stormed back from a 3-5 deficit to take the first set, winning 7 games on the trot to take it and lead 3-0 in the second before reaching the first final of his career.
“I was nervous,” said Ymer. “I knew he would come out very strong.
“Luckily I got a chance to break him in the first set.”
Alcaraz, the last seeded player in the field and ranked 54th in the world, was trying to reach his second final of the year.
Ymer played flawless tennis from the baseline, clinching it on the first of 2 match points when the 18-year-old Alcaraz sailed his backhand long.
The Swede lost only one point in the final game due to a double-fault, his 3rd of the match on the hard-courts at the Wake Forest Tennis Complex in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
Robin Soderling was the last Swede to reach a final, winning the Bastad, Sweden tournament in 2011.
Ymer, whose parents are from Ethiopia, blasted 3 aces to just 2 for Alcaraz.
Earlier in the year, Ymer reached the 3rd round at the Australian Open and the French Open where he defeated Gael Monfils for the biggest win of his career.
Ymer is playing his first event of the US Open Series, but with the confidence earned by reaching back-to-back quarter-finals at his two most recent events on clay in Gstaad and Kitzbuehel.
Fellow finalist Ivashka hammered Finland’s Ruusuvuori, 6-2 6-1, in the other semi-final Friday, breaking 5 times and holding his own serve throughout.
It sent him into his first ATP Tour hard-court final, where he will try to become the first player from Belarus to win a tour singles title in 18 years.
The 27-year-old is ranked No. 63 in the world, and attempting to follow in the footsteps of compatriot Max Mirnyi, who is the last player from Belarus to win an ATP title in 2003 at Rotterdam.
“I feel good physically and mentally and I’m just trying to play my best tennis,” Ivashka said. “I like to play on hard courts, so it’s all coming together this week.
“It is something I have been dreaming of, to get an ATP title, so let’s see tomorrow if it happens.”
Ivashka and Mirnyi have been exchanging messages this week and recently spent time together at the Tokyo Olympics.
“He’s a really nice guy, an unbelievable human being and a legend of our sport,” Ivashka said.
The hard-court tournament is a tuneup for the US Open, the year’s last Grand Slam tournament that starts Monday in New York.