Slovakia’s Norbert Gombos defeated Brayden Schnur 7-6(3), 6-3 to win the 2019 Winnipeg National Bank Challenger title on Sunday afternoon.
“I felt really confident this week,” said Gombos, who entered the tournament as the No. 6 seed and ranked 158th in the world. “The whole week I was serving quite well, returning well, moving on the court and playing aggressive. I was pretty confident today and I was so happy to win another tournament. I’m actually so happy.”
It was a tough loss for Schnur, as he had an opportunity to become the first Canadian to win the Winnipeg National Bank Challenger’s men’s tournament. Schnur, a 24-year-old from Pickering, Ont., was the tournament’s No. 3 seed and began the week ranked 112th in the world. With his finals appearance, he will move up into the top 100.
“First set tiebreaker, I played a little sloppy,” said Schnur, who was playing in the event for the fourth time. “He came up with some good shots. And then in the second set, I think I just kind of lost it with my serve a little bit. You know, I managed to break him a couple times and keep fighting, but I didn’t think I served as well as I’m capable of. And obviously, I think it was a very high level final.”
Schnur also appreciated the support from the crowd at the Winnipeg Lawn Tennis Club on Sunday, as they were clearly hoping to see the Canadian take home the title. Schnur said he didn’t feel any added pressure being a Canadian playing on home soil.
“I definitely like it. I try to use the momentum to boost me with energy and stuff like that,” Schnur said. “But I don’t feel any pressure, really. I’ve played in front of bigger crowds and I get people supporting my opponent and all that stuff. It’s something I’m used to and I’ve been in front of many times.”
Gombos said it wasn’t easy playing against a fan favourite, but he’s glad he got the job done. It’s also Gombos’ second straight Challenger victory, as he’s coming off a win at the Bratislava Open.
“It’s never easy to play with the home crowd guy because they are cheering him a lot and they want to cheer him up to win,” Gombos said. “It’s not easy. But, I was focusing on myself, playing my game and (thinking about) how to win the match so that’s why I’m pretty happy to win.”
Schnur will head to Rhode Island next to play in the Hall of Fame Open. As for Gombos, who was the 80th ranked player in the world two years ago, he’s hoping the good times continue to roll in Canada as he’ll be playing in Challenger events in Gatineau and Granby next. Gombos will also play in next month’s U.S. Open.
“There are so many ups and downs in tennis,” Gombos said. “So, you have to believe in yourself and keep fighting and just hard work. That’s the way how you can come back and finally I feel again that I can be back to top 100 so I have to keep it this way and I think I will be good.”
On Saturday, Peter Polansky and Darian King knocked off Hunter Reese and Adil Shamasdin 7-6, 6-3 in the doubles final.