MANILA – Ruben Gonzales of the Philippines and Reese Stalder of the United States toppled No. 1 seeds Nicolas Barrientos of Colombia and Miguel Angel Reyes-Varela of Mexico, 7-6(5), 6-3, in the final of the Republica Dominicana Open, Saturday in the Dominican Republic.
This is the second doubles title of the season for Gonzales on the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) Challenger Tour, following his Savannah Challenger championship in April with countryman Treat Huey.
In the final played on Estadio Hypermalt of Club La Bocha in Santo Domingo, the Filipino-American and Colombian-Mexican tandems managed to hold serve throughout the opening set.
Gonzales and Stalder won the first game with an ace, and Barrientos and Reyes-Varela saved three break points to level at 1-1.
At 4-4, Gonzales and Stalder faced two break points. The Filipino doubles specialist saved the first with a volley winner, and his American partner saved the second one by forcing a long return of serve.
Barrientos and Reyes-Varela saved a break point in the following game to be at 5-5, and Gonzales and Stalder fought off two break opportunities to advance to 6-5.
A love service hold by the Colombian and Mexican brought the first set to a tiebreak, with the first mini break of the decider going to Barrientos and Reyes-Varela, 3-2, courtesy of a forehand volley error.
Gonzales and Stalder caught up to 3-3 with a mini break brought about by Stalder’s forehand winner, and advanced to 5-4 with another mini break via a forehand return of serve winner by Gonzales.
They took the first set, 7-6(5), after a Gonzales serve forced a return error.
In the second set, Gonzales and Stalder broke on their fourth opportunity in the fifth game to be at 3-2.
Serving at 4-3, they earned three game points with a Stalder ace and proceeded to inch closer to victory, 5-3, after Gonzales hit a forehand overhead smash winner.
In the ninth game, a feisty forehand return of serve winner by Stalder gave him and Gonzales a match point.
They successfully converted the most crucial break point of the final to take the title, 6-3, after a forceful Gonzales backhand yielded an error from Barrientos and Reyes-Varela.
Gonzales and Stalder, who were runners-up at Georgia’s Rome Challenger last month, kicked off their Republica Dominicana Open campaign with a 6-4, 6-3 upset over No. 3 seeds Luis David Martinez of Venezuela and Nicolas Mejia of Colombia.
They ousted wildcards Peter Bertran and Victor Estrella Burgos of Dominican Republic in the quarterfinals, 6-2, 7-6(2), and received a walkover from Daniel Dutra da Silva of Brazil and Alexander Merino of Peru in the semifinals.
Apart from his two ATP Challenger titles this season, another achievement for the 36-year-old Gonzales is his men’s doubles gold medal finish in May alongside Huey at the 31st Southeast Asian Games in Vietnam.