João Sousa crowned Millennium Estoril Open champion and makes tennis history in Portugal
João Sousa became the first Portuguese player to win an ATP title on home soil by claiming a 6-4, 6-4 victory over American Frances Tiafoe to win the 2018 Millennium Estoril Open title.
In a sold-out venue Portugal’s No.1 player capped off a dream week in Clube de Ténis do Estoril by overcoming #NextGenATP Tiafoe in what was the first official match between both players.
On the warmest day of the tournament, Sousa started the match strongly and got the early break to take the lead of the first set, which he ultimately won.
In the second set the 29-year-old Portuguese player, who had two titles to his name (Kuala Lumpur 2013; Valencia 2015), kept the intensity levels up and raced to a 4-0 lead before Tiafoe found his footing and rallied back to 4-5. Called to serve for the match Sousa didn’t disappoint and with a forehand winner sealed the historic victory in front of more than 3000-strong portuguese crowd.
One hour and 19 minutes and history was made on the portuguese clay. It’s the third ATP title for João Sousa, who guarantees the re-entry into the World Top 50.
“It’s hard to take this in. It’s an unique feeling. Even though I never publicly confessed I had a strong desire to win here. Like any other Portuguese player I’ve always dreamed of winning this title. It was a dream week for me. Honestly I’m still in disbelief in what I just achieved. It’s a beautiful page in in the story of the portuguese sport. I’m very very happy and I owe a lot to my family and my team for this achievement," said Sousa after his maiden ATP title in Portugal.
Tiafoe who was looking to win his second career title after Delray Beach in February - his first on the clay - admitted he never felt at ease in the match and found it challenging to play in a venue where the crowd unanimously supported his opponent:
“I couldn’t get my feet wet today. It was tough for me. I didn’t feel great. I didn’t play nearly as well as I did all week and he took advantage of that. He played the way he wanted to play all match. I couldn’t get anything going. He played well from the first to the last point. I got some things going towards the end but couldn’t really pressure him,” said Tiafoe in his post-match press conference. “I haven’t played a match in my career before where you are playing the hometown hero, so I haven’t really dealt with that before. It was a new experience for me. My feet were like stones today.”