World no. 63 Ilya Ivashka was a player to beat this week in Winston-Salem, the last stop in the calendar ahead of the US Open. The Belarusian came to Winston-Salem with two ATP semi-finals under his belt, and he scored six victories to claim the first ATP crown at 27. Ivashka became the first Belarusian player with an ATP title since Max Mirnyi in 2003, beating Marin Cilic and Pablo Carreno Busta en route to his first ATP final and toppling Mikael Ymer 6-0, 6-2 in the title clash in 55 minutes to lift the trophy in style. Ilya lost serve only four times ahead of the final and produced 18 return games to leave all the rivals behind and set the clash against another first-time ATP finalist, who could not match his level. The young Swede won only 27 points in total, earning miserable two points on the return and getting broken five times to propel Ivashka over the top. Ilya is now the lowest-ranked Winston-Salem champion and the eighth first-time ATP winner in 2021, joining Evans, Cerundolo, Popyrin, Karatsev, Korda, Norrie and Alcaraz.
Ilya Ivashka claimed the first ATP crown in Winston-Salem over Mikael Ymer.
Serving in his first ATP final, Ymer got broken at 15 in the first game following Ivashka’s forehand return winner, and the Belarusian held at love in game two to build the advantage. In the third game, Mikael wasted a game point and got broken when his forehand landed long for another setback and further deficit. Ilya landed a booming serve in the fourth game secure another game and seized the second break chance in the next one to gain a 5-0 advantage following another loose forehand from the Swede. The Belarusian wrapped up the set with an ace in game six for a bagel after 20 minutes, hoping for more in set number two.
Doing everything right so far, Ilya grabbed another break at the beginning of the second set with a lob winner and held with a service winner in the next one to open a 6-0, 2-0 gap. Mikael got his name on the scoreboard in the third game after 34 minutes before his rival produced another hold at love to remain ahead. Ymer netted a forehand in the fifth game to suffer a break at love and find himself further down, facing a match point at 1-5. He saved it and held after five deuces to extend the clash before Ivashka held at love to celebrate the first ATP crown a few minutes later.