Mannarino def. Michelsen to win Newport title

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NEWPORT, R.I. — Second-seeded Adrian Mannarino defeated teenager Alex Michelsen, 6-2, 6-4, to win the Hall of Fame Open final on Sunday.

The 35-year-old Frenchman relied on his consistent play and maybe some jitters from the 18-year-old American to capture his third ATP tour title.

“Tennis is a real mental game,” Mannarino said. “Even if you’re missing but trying to go for winners, it’s giving some information to your opponent that you’re not going to choke and you’re going to take a little bit of a chance in some games.”

Under bright blue skies with a slight breeze and temperatures in the low 80s, Mannarino broke in the fifth and seventh games of a first set that lasted just 27 minutes.

The set closed when Mannarino hit a forehand passing shot down the line.

“I’m feeling pretty lucky that I got all the way through this week,” said Mannarino, who played on Newport’s grass courts for the 10th time but made his first final in the shadows of the International Tennis Hall of Fame.

Playing in just his second ATP tour event after capturing a Challenger title in Chicago last week, Michelsen looked somewhat tight early, hitting a handful of unforced errors.

“I played pretty poorly from the start,” he said.

Michelsen was looking to become the youngest ATP tour event champion this season, and the youngest American to win a title since Hall of Famer Andy Roddick won Houston in 2001.

“It was a really good week. I got a ton of points,” said the California native, who committed and signed to play college tennis with Georgia but said he’d have to reassess when he returns home.

“I was here on my own, trying to figure it out,” he said. “I think I did pretty well. It was a very good week, very positive week, not too many negatives, for sure.”

He looked stronger to start the second set, breaking in the second game, but Mannarino broke back the next game, hitting a backhand past Michelsen down the line as the youngster was at the net looking to hit a return.

“I knew it was going to be a lot more about rallies and that’s usually when I feel confident,” Mannarino said. “It’s all about what you’re going to show to your opponent, and today I was trying to make him think I was comfortable.”

Mannarino took control, breaking in the ninth game of the second set. The 1 hour, 22-minute match ended when Michelsen hit a backhand return wide on the final point.

The tournament is held in conjunction with enshrinement ceremonies into the Hall.

Esther Vergeer, 42, a dominant wheelchair player that captured 21-time Grand Slam singles titles and a seven-time Paralympic gold medalist, led the class of 2023. She was inducted Saturday evening with American Rick Draney, 61, who won 12 singles titles and six in doubles before the Grand Slam era of wheelchair tennis.

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