João Sousa defeated Frances Tiafoe in two sets to win the title in Estoril. The Portuguese was playing his tenth ATP Tour final and won his third career title.
First tight set for the Portuguese
Frances Tiafoe started the match on serve and although he made a double fault he was able to close the first game losing just one point in the way. João Sousa won his first serve game love and the match was leveled at 1-1. Tiafoe was serving for the 2-1 but Sousa made some pressure and was able to get the break at the fifth break point.
Leading 2-1 with a break, the Portuguese faced a break point and saved it to hold the serve and be up 3-1, in a game in which there were two aces from Sousa, one of them - to close the game - being in the second serve. In the next game, João started to make a lot of mistakes and Frances Tiafoe held at love.
Although the multiple ATP titles winner started the following game with a 30-0, he ended up getting broken. At 3-3, Tiafoe was serving and he couldn't contradict the Portuguese tennis, which led him to another break after a well-fought point at 30-40. João Sousa was leading 4-3 and served really well to put himself up 5-3. Frances held his serve at love and Sousa closed the set in the next game after facing a break point. The set ended 6-4.
Second set with Frances Tiafoe more tired
The first game of the second set was a very tight one as there were very good shots and long points. Sousa broke the North-American's serve and started with a 1-0 lead after Tiafoe double-faulted. Both players were playing very deep and making great points. The home player confirmed his serve and stayed 2-0 up. Soon, the younger player stopped to run to the difficult shots and stayed a little passive. With this, he made an error in a breakpoint and gave João a two-break lead.
Leading 3-0 with two breaks, the older athlete aced Tiafoe to do the 4-0. The 20 years old player started to go for the ball and showed he was still in the fight and got his first game of the second set with a big serve at 199 km/ h. João Sousa made the 5-1 and the pressure was all in Tiafoe's side at that moment. The ATP NextGen star was not intimidated and held his serve without letting his opponent win a point.
The next game was a decisive one to the Portuguese and to the history of Portugal. Sousa was serving for the match at 5-2 in the second set but the American was preparing the points very well and going for the balls. Tiafoe was more aggressive and Sousa started to defend a little too much and not going to the point. He got broke and end of the match got delayed.
The next one it was an easy service game for Frances who put all the pressure on the Portuguese side. That didn't affect João and he served for the match again at 5-4, but this time he made it, holding it at love and finishing with a very varied point. The final score was 6-4, 6-4.
History has been made
João Sousa becomes the first Portuguese ever in the history of Portuguese tennis to win an ATP World Tour event held in the country and consequently the first Portuguese player to win the Millennium Estoril Open. Until yesterday, Fred Gil, currently ranked 445th and former world number 62, was the only home player to be in the final of an ATP event played in Portugal, in the previous Estoril Open, played in Oeiras.
Sousa has now made ten ATP World Tour event finals and won three of them. The first title was Kuala Lumpur in 2013, the second one was Valencia in 2015 and now Estoril in 2018. This is his first ATP title on clay, as the other ones were played in indoor hard courts.
The Portuguese athlete aced Tiafoe four times and didn't make a double fault. The North-American made three aces and double-faulted five times. Both players have a similar percentage of first serves, Sousa 60%, and Frances 62%.
João won 76% of the points played in his first serve and Tiafoe 74%. Out of six, the winner saved four break points, and the defeated one saved six out of ten. At the end of the match, this year's champion won 59 points and the NextGen star 53.
Both players will have as their next tournament, Internazionali BNL d’Italia 2018, in Rome.