In the fight of two Blaž, both Slovenian, for the trophy at the ATP Challenger Split Open, the victory was taken by the younger, Rola, who reached the fifth title of his career by defeating his friend, Kavčič. Despite the cloudy, windy and cold conditions with light rain in the final, the boys played a quality final.
At the Central Court of TC Firule, the No 6 seed, Blaž Rola, reached the triumph with the result 2:6, 6:3, 6:2 in two hours and 16 minutes of play. Kavčič did the first set flawlessly, but when Rola returned from the "toilet break" in the break between sets, he played much more decisively and aggressively. He immediately separated to 3:0 and kept that advantage until the end of the set, to enter the final section with a "break". Kavčič found it increasingly difficult to cope with his shots, so Rola once again took away his serve for a 5:2 lead, but that was not the end of the uncertainty. The longest game of the match followed, in which Kavčič did not realize three "break" chances, while Rola realized the third match point.
This is Rola's first victory over Kavčič in the fourth duel and certainly the most important one. With it, he reached the fifth title at the Challenger tournaments, but the first on European ground, after Guangzhou in 2014., Santos in 2015., Tallahassee in 2017. and Leon in 2019.
I have mixed feelings because I played against a good friend with whom I train every day. It is a pity that there had to be only one winner - said the 30-year-old from Ptuj to the gathered journalists after the match, holding the winning trophy firmly.
He looked back at the match:
- I don't even know how I won! These conditions are more suitable for another Blaž, it was slow and cold. He played the first set without a mistake, and then I became a little more aggressive. I'm sure the stands would be full today if it wasn't for Coronavirus. Everyone from Slovenia who supports us would come, but all credit to the organizer. I know it wasn’t easy for him in these times.
On the other hand, Kavčič from Ljubljana, four years older, delighted everyone with his fighting spirit and numerous upheavals, which is why he deserved the epithets of a marathoner and king of the third sets. However, this third set ultimately failed to win. He ran out of "fuel".
- I played the first set without a mistake, and then I lost my temper a bit. Maybe fatigue had accumulated so I was making mistakes I don’t normally make. After the first set, the second Blaž started attacking more and I wasn’t ready for that. I fell on the defensive, I tried to get as close as possible to the line, but I didn't succeed - commented Kavčič, whose path to the finals is really worth summarizing once again.
So, in the qualifiers, he celebrated against our Božo Barun after he started the match with 0:4, and against Martineau, he turned a set of minuses, so against Ymer in the second round of the main tournament he made up for the set and "break" behind, saved two matches-points and then turned the "break" minus in the third set. He won against Vukić in the quarterfinals and Žuk in the semifinals after losing the first set. Although with 17 titles he is among the ten best players in the Challengers of all time, he will have to wait a little longer for the next one.
The only one who was an absolute winner before the start of the finals was the coach of Rola and Kavčič, also Blaž, Trupej. He watched the match from the stands proudly and later took photos with his players, who recently won the Zadar Challenger in pairs.
- We have been working together since last December and this final is proof that we are doing well - said Rola, and Kavčič continued:
- We know each other very well and we are friends in private life as well. We almost spend more time with each other than with our wives, haha. We are training hard and we hope that there will be more finals.
The director of the tournament, Ismar Moralić, handed over to Rola the winning trophy, and in addition, he will receive 6,190 euros and 80 points. Kavcic gets 3650 euros and 48 points. As for the situation on the ATP list, Rola should rise from 165th place to approximately 147th, while Kavčič is waiting for progress from 238th to somewhere in 215th place.
Unfortunately, Rola will not defend the title next week because he is going to the Belgrade Challenger, and the performance of Kavčič, who should play in the first round with the No 2 seed Marco Polmans, is also questionable.
- I need to talk to the coach. I’ve had injury problems recently so I have to be careful, I can’t head through the wall. However, maybe I won't play next week - Kavčič concluded.
ATP CHALLENGER SPLIT OPEN, FINALS
Blaž Rola (Slovenija, 6) – Blaž Kavčič (Slovenija, Q) 2:6, 6:3, 6:2