WATCH: Arthur Fils becomes youngest title winner of 2023 with Lyon Open triumph
Frenchman Arthur Fils defeated Francisco Cerundolo 6-3, 7-5 to become the youngest champion in Lyon Open history on Saturday.
Fils made a strong start and produced some audacious shots as they 4,000 strong crowd cheered on the home hope.
The 18-year-old played forcefully throughout the hour and 36 minutes of the final after defeating Brandon Nakashima in three sets in the semifinals.
In the first ATP Tour matchup between Fils and Cerundolo, the home hero displayed excellent agility and opened his shoulders to overwhelm the fourth-seeded Argentine.
The home audience roared in delight as Fils collapsed to the ground after winning the title on his first championship point.
“I will remember this forever,” Fils said. “It has been a great week. It has been amazing. I am happy with the win and now I want more. It was a tough semi-final match. Today I came onto court with not lots of energy, but I was focused on my game and trying my best.
“I was feeling that I was playing well earlier [this week] but I didn’t maybe expect that I would win the tournament.”
Fils became the ATP Tour’s youngest champion this year with his 10th tour-level triumph of the year. He joins Carlos Alcaraz (Indian Wells, Barcelona, Buenos Aires) and Holger Rune (Munich) as the third teen to take home a trophy in 2023.
Fils is also the lowest-ranked champion this season having come into the Lyon Open
Earlier this season, Fils advanced to the semifinals on home soil in Montpellier and Marseille.
However, in Lyon he discovered another level.
Fils moved up to third in the ATP Live NextGen Race after his championship win. With a 49-place increase to No 63 in the ATP Live Rankings, the Frenchman is also poised to break into the Top 100 for the first time. Only Fils and his fellow countryman Luca Van Assche, 19, are still in the Top 100 as Roland Garros approaches.
Fils received enthusiastic home support throughout the fascinating final, and a live band helped create an electrifying atmosphere in between each point. Fils soared to the first set, but twice in the second set he allowed a break advantage to slip away.
However, in the 11th game of the set, the 18-year-old ultimately broke for the third time, which turned out to be the set-deciding break. He then maintained his composure on serve to secure the greatest win of his career.
After winning in Bastad last season, Cerundolo was seeking to win his second tour-level tournament win. The 24-year-old, who advanced to the quarterfinals in Rome and Barcelona, will enter Roland Garros in 2023 with a 13-9 record on clay.
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