MANILA – No. 2 seeds Ruben Gonzales of the Philippines and Reese Stalder of the United States blew their lead in the Cleveland Open doubles final to finish as runners-up of the ATP Challenger Tour event.
Gonzales and Stalder failed to foil the comeback surge of top seeds Robert Galloway of the US and Hans Hach Verdugo of Mexico, 6-3, 5-7, 6-10, at the Cleveland Racquet Club Center Court in Ohio on Saturday.
The first set was dominated by Gonzales and Stalder, who claimed a 5-2 lead after winning three consecutive games.
After their opponents held serve to love, Gonzales and Stalder moved past two break points to clinch the first set, 6-3, after a Gonzales forehand overhead smash yielded a forehand error from the American-Mexican duo.
Gonzales and Stalder, the 2022 Santo Domingo Challenger champions, carried on in the second set by breaking serve in the opening game and pulling away with a 3-1 edge.
An ace down the T sealed their love service hold for a 4-2 lead, until Galloway and Hach broke serve to level at 4-4 after Gonzales netted a forehand approach shot.
Serving at 5-6 in hopes of forcing a tiebreak, the Filipino-American tandem was down by two break points when a Gonzales double fault handed over the second set to Galloway and Hach.
Gonzales and Stalder bounced back in the 10-point match tiebreak by taking a 3-0 lead via their fifth ace, then advancing to 5-3 through a mini break due to a double fault.
Galloway and Hach leveled at 5-5 by serving an ace and gaining a mini break from a double fault.
They proceeded to be on the brink of victory, 9-5, after Gonzales and Stalder let out a netted backhand approach shot.
After saving the first of four match points, Gonzales and Stalder were halted by a forehand overhead winner by Galloway and Hach, who clinched the Cleveland Open crown, 10-6.
En route to the final, Gonzales and Stalder saw off Martin Breysach of France and George Goldhoff of the U.S., 7-6(3), 6-1, in the first round.
They ousted Gabriel Diallo of Canada and Aleksandar Kovacevic of the U.S. in the quarterfinals, 6-2, 6-3, and Jonas Forejtek of Czech Republic and Thai-Son Kwiatkowski of the U.S. in the semifinals, 7-6(6), 7-5.
Gonzales, the 37-year-old ATP Doubles World No. 140, was gunning for his first title of the season to add to his eight ATP Challenger Tour championships.
The University of Illinois tennis alum has also won 18 Futures titles as well as the 31st Southeast Asian Games men’s doubles gold medal.