Daniel Galan (COL) vs. Thai-Son Kwiatkowski (USA)
Head-to-Head: First meeting
The Oracle Challenger Series Newport Beach presented by RBC Wealth Management began with 48 players in the men’s singles draw, 16 of whom were seeded, but the week ended with two unseeded underdogs in the final. Daniel Galan from Colombia will take on American Thai-Son Kwiatkowski on Sunday at the Newport Beach Tennis Club.
For Kwiatkowski, this is a big breakthrough, as he was previously 0-5 in ATP Challenger Tour semifinals. Naturally, his win over No.4 seed Steve Johnson today meant a lot to the former UVA Cavalier. He dropped the first set, but battled back to take a tight tiebreak and close it out in the third set 3-6, 7-6(4), 6-1.
“I hung in there in the second set,” said Kwiatkowski. “I didn’t play great in the first, and he was putting so much pressure on me on his serve that I never really got into any of his service games. I was able to capitalize on one mistake he made in the tiebreaker. In the third, maybe he wasn’t 100%, but I tried not to think about the score and started to return a bit better. He wasn’t serving as big. A couple points here and there separated the second and I was able to get more confidence in the serve.
Although he doesn’t know much about his final opponent, he is ready for a tough fight.
“I know nothing at all about Galan,” said Kwiatkowski. “I’ve seen him around and obviously he’s really good. He qualified for the Australian Open, so he’s playing with a lot of confidence. He’s a really nice guy, everyone respects him in the locker room, but I’ve never seen him play.”
Galan was rolling in his match against American Mitchell Krueger, with a set in hand and up 3-0 with points for 4-0. But Krueger fought back and even served for the set at 5-4.
“I was pretty solid in the first set and was serving pretty well,” said Galan. “But in the second I had chances to take a double break lead, but he played well in those moments and kept getting better and better. I was there in the match fighting and thank God it went my way.”
Closing out the match in a tiebreak 6-2, 7-6(4), Galan was thankful that he did not need to go to a third set, as he knows a dangerous opponent looms in Sunday’s final.
“I don’t know much about Thai-son,” he said. “But I know he serves well – his first serve is very fast. I just know that I have to play my game and be offensive.”
The men’s final will be played on Sunday after the completion of the women’s final, which begins at 10am at the Newport Beach Tennis Club.