The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

July 20, 2013

USTA Futures singles final set for today

By Ryan Atkinson
Globe Sports Writer

— Alex Sarkissian’s dominant start Saturday, and perhaps some shoulder trouble for Daniel Garza, prevented a matchup of the top two seeds in today’s finals of the USTA Freeman $10,000 Men’s Futures tournament at Millennium Tennis and Fitness Club.

Sarkissian ousted the second-seeded Garza, who retired down 2-1 in the second set after dropping the first 6-1.

That means the tournament’s top seed, Darian King — who topped Alex Blumenberg 6-3, 6-3 in Saturday’s first match — will face the unranked Sarkissian in today’s championship at 11 a.m.

Sarkissian, the lone American in the semifinals and a senior at Pepperdine, has been on the tour for three weeks and said today will be his first trip to the finals after losing twice in the semifinals.

“I just have to play well,” he said. “I’ve been playing well throughout this whole week so as long as I keep this up hopefully some good news will happen (today.)”

The 6-foot-2 Californian was dominant against Mexico’s Garza, who entered the tournament with a world ranking of 463. He broke Garza’s serve twice and used a string of aces in the third set to help build a 5-0 lead.

Garza’s strong serve seemed to make a brief appearance when he made it 5-1, but Sarkissian ended the set with an ace in the next game.

Garza had a trainer work on his shoulder for approximately five minutes between sets and then quickly won the first game of the second set.

But Sarkissian won the next two games and Garza met him at the net to shake hands and retire.

“I played well,” Sarkissian said. “And obviously (Garza) didn’t play so well, so that made me look a little better on the court, I guess.”

King, from Barbados, got a bit more of a challenge from Brazil’s Blumenberg.

After dropping the first set, Blumenberg broke King’s serve and used his powerful serve and some unforced errors by King to build a 3-1 lead in the second set.

But King held serve to make it 3-2 and the broke Blumenberg’s serve to tie the set at three. After he held serve again to take a 4-3 lead, a frustrated Blumenberg vented with some yells and a thrown towel.

King the quickly put the match away, taking advantage of a Blumenberg double-fault to make it 5-3 and then quickly winning the next game to take the match.

“After I broke serve I knew he was kind of feeling down on himself and started to feel fatigued after his long three matches in the first three rounds,” said King of Blumenberg, who had gone three sets in each of his first three matches. “I just had to fight and keep a lot of balls in the court. That was a key for me.”

The win gives the well-rounded King a shot a redemption after losing to France’s Sebastien Boltz in last year’s finals.

“I feel great, not as tired as last year,” King said. “For the finals last year I was pretty tired. But this year I feel well. I worked on my fitness, which is my strength and now I’m just ready.”