Acapulco champs Thiem, Stephens breaking new ground

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Austrian Dominic Thiem and American Sloane Stephens showed major strides forward by taking their second titles of the year the the ATP and WTA Acapulco Open finals.

Thiem went 13-1 in the month of February with a trophy in Buenos Aires, a semi-final run at Rio de Janeiro and a 7-6 (8/6), 4-6, 6-3 triumph over Australia’s Bernard Tomic in the Mexico final.

“It was unbelievable,” Thiem said. “These three weeks have been amazing. Winning my first 500 title and first hard-court title, it was just perfect. It was how a final should be, between two young and up-and-coming players. I hope we’re going to play many more finals together. Both of us wanted to win so badly.”

The 22-year-old European, who rises Monday to a career-high 14th in the world rankings, is the first Austrian winner at the event since Thomas Muster in 1996.

It was a matchup between two of the nine ATP Tour players born in the 1990s to have won titles. Thiem has been in both other such ATP finals, against David Goffin last year at Gstaad and in 2014 at Kitzbuhel.

The 22-year-old European, who rises Monday to a career-high 14th in the world rankings, is the first Austrian winner at the event since Thomas Muster in 1996.

Thiem has 18 match wins in 2016 to lead the ATP Tour.

Tomic was denied in his quest for a fourth ATP title in his fifth tour final.

“It could have been huge if I won, but I had my chances,” Tomic said. “That’s the biggest disappointment, having the chance to win. I’m frustrated with myself.

“But he was playing very well and he’s an amazing competitor. Every point he was competing. He was feeling good on court and has been playing well all week. In the final of big tournaments, you have to take your chances in the big moments. I didn’t take it.”

On the women’s side, second seed Stephens outlasted 2014 Acapulco winner Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia 6-4, 4-6, 7-6 (7/5).

“I got a little bit better today because of her and I wouldn’t want to have this memory with anyone else,” Stephens said after the longest WTA final of the year.

“We had a great week and a great start to the year and I’m looking forward to keeping it going.”

Stephens began the year with a title at Auckland, beating former world number one Caroline Wozniacki on the way tpo the trophy, after taking her first title last year at Washington.

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