Ivo Karlović took top honors in the singles final at the inaugural ATP 250 Los Cabos Open on Saturday night, defeating Feliciano López 7-6, 6-2 in front of an appreciative crowd at the newly built Estadio Pegaso in Cabo San Lucas. The match featured the oldest combined ages between finalists on the ATP tour since 1977. Karlović is 37, López 34.
It was, at most, a mild upset. Karlović, who was seeded third, is a force of nature, a 6’11” giant who until four years held the record for the fastest serve ever on the ATP tour at 156 mph, and is the tallest player ever to be ranked among the top 100 players in the world. When he’s on his game, powering in first massive first serves, he is very tough to beat. But López–in many ways the face of the tournament, both on-court as top seed and off-court via promotional duties–fought hard, particularly during the first set and its subsequent tiebreaker.
“It was a difficult match in the beginning,” said the Croatian Karlović. “He was playing really well. I was a little lucky at the end of the first set, but that gave me confidence for the rest of the match. I realized what he was doing and took my opportunities.”
Karlović earned $128,200 U.S. dollars for the victory, while runner-up Lopez received $67,515. India’s Purav Raja and Divij Sharan won the hotly contested doubles final, meanwhile, outlasting Israel’s Jonathan Erlich and England’s Ken Skupski 7-6, 7-6. The winners of that match shared $38,940. The rest of the tournament’s $780,000 in prize money was distributed among other participants.
The week-long tournament will be remembered not only for its excellent tennis, but for ushering in ATP level competition in Los Cabos. The Los Cabos Open (in Spanish, Abierto Los Cabos) was the first-ever big-time tournament in the area–it took the calendar spot formerly occupied by an event in Bogotá, Colombia–and required the construction of brand new facilities at the Delmar International School, a bilingual educational center for children K-12 located just outside Cabo San Lucas proper.
The shiny new facilities proved excellent, and included not only a 3,500 seat stadium, a grandstand and auxiliary hard courts, but a hospitality center for restaurants, bars and major sponsors like ESPN, Pepsi, Adidas, Michelob Ultra, Mazda and Cinemex. Those seeking refreshments were treated to fresh local seafood and other Mexican delicacies like artisanal tequila and mescal. Fine wines were also abundant, allowing visitors to sit at picnic tables sipping Champagne and enjoying the spectacular views of Land’s End.
Land’s End and El Arco, the famed 30-million-year-old granite monuments at the southernmost tip of the Baja California peninsula, were almost as prominently featured as the players. Top seeds López, Australian Bernard Tomic and American Sam Querrey were even taken on a tour aboard local dinner cruiser Caborey so that they could volley on a miniature tennis court in front of the area’s most notable natural wonders.
Tomic and Querrey subsequently lost in their first matches.
López fought on to very end, and like Karlović, seemed impressed with both the place and its people.
“Everyone here is really nice to me, “ Karlović said, summing up the prevailing opinion. “The venue is unbelievable. I hope to come back next year.”