Gonzales, Johnson bag ATP Challenger doubles title in Romania

Ariel Ian Clarito
Gonzales, Johnson bag ATP Challenger doubles title in Romania

CHAMPS. Ruben Gonzales (right) and Hunter Johnson score a breakthrough title win.

Ruben Gonzales' Facebook page

National team veteran Ruben Gonzales and American Hunter Johnson capture their first title as a pair

Philippine tennis team mainstay Ruben Gonzales teamed up with Hunter Johnson of the United States to win the €44,820 Trofeul Tiriac-Nastase, an ATP Challenger event in Bucharest, Romania on Saturday, September 25 (Sunday, September 26, Manila time)

Seeded third in the competition, Gonzales and Johnson came back from a set down to defeat the unseeded tandem of Maximilian Marterer of Germany and Lukas Rosol of the Czech Republic, 1-6, 6-2, 10-3.

Marterer and Rosol pulled off an upset in the semifinals over top seeds Jamie Cerretani of the US and Luca Margaroli of Switzerland. But they could not replicate this feat in the finals against Gonzales and Johnson, who were determined to win their first title as a pair.

Gonzales, ranked 199th in the ATP doubles ranking, and Johnson, now at a career high world ranking of 245th,overcame a lethargic start which saw them trail 0-4 in the first set. 

“It was not so much about what we were doing. It’s just that they were playing so well. However, I told Hunter I did not believe they could sustain that level the whole match,” Gonzales told Rappler after the match.

He was right. The Filipino and American finally found their groove in the second set where they raced to a 4-1 lead. They broke their opponents’ serve three times to win the second set in comfortable fashion and get themselves back in the match. 

The deciding set was all Gonzales and Johnson as they erected an insurmountable 6-0 advantage which the Marterer-Rosol tandem could not rally from.

This was the 12th time that Gonzales and Johnson teamed up in 2021. They had made the semifinals four times together, but this was their first time as a pair to reach the finals of the ATP Challenger tour. 

They are scheduled to see action next week in another ATP Challenger event, the Sibiu Open, considered the crown jewel of tennis tournaments in Romania. –