“I was just thinking ‘what a tournament it’s been, what a year it’s been’ and swung away.”
That is what Marcos Giron was saying to himself down 1-6 in the third set tiebreaker to one of the game’s all-time greatest servers.
“I cannot believe I was able to win that match.”
In one of the most epic and unprecedented finals in Oracle Challenger Series (and, possibly ATP) history, Marcos Giron saved six match points in a final set tiebreaker to defeat Ivo Karlovic 7-5, 6-7(5), 7-6(9).
As expected, the server had the immense advantage throughout the whole match, with each competitor winning around 80% of his service points. However, the first set saw Giron up his level on a Karlovic service game to break for a chance to serve for the set.
“It was a huge relief to break him,” said Giron. “But you can’t take anything for granted. The next game went to deuce, and I knew that I had to win the last point of the set. I had to take care of my serve.”
Despite a shaky last game that included a double fault on his second set point, the UCLA grad closed it out 7-5.
The second went a bit more to plan, with Karlovic saving the only two break points with an ace and another huge serve. In the tiebreak, Karlovic got the mini-break on an errant Giron groundstroke which was enough to tip the set the Croatian’s way.
It was the end of the third where the fireworks happened. The match seemed destined for a decisive tiebreak until Giron faced his first break points of the match, down 0-40 at 5-5. His consistency and ability to move the 6’11” Karlovic from side to side dug him out of that hole. Two aces by Karlovic in the next game sent it to a tiebreak.
Giron opened with a double fault – not a great start when you are facing the ATP career ace leader – and Karlovic raced to seemingly insurmountable 4-0 and 6-1 leads.
“I was thinking about how this is the last tournament of the year, a flashback through the season,” recollected Grion about being down five consecutive match points. “I was in the moment but also out of it, in a weird space. Next thing you know, I played a couple good points to get back to 6-3 and I have no idea how I won the next two points on his serve. I thought, well, this is it, it’s been a good ride.”
He played two great returns at the feet of Karlovic to gain the advantage and tied it up at 6-6, saving five match points in a row. He would go on to save one more on his serve, and at 10-9, closed out the match with an ace.
“To come away with the win is surreal. I couldn’t ask for a better way to end the year.”