Chilean qualifier Alejandro Tabilo battled past top seed Diego Schwartzman and a partisan crowd in Cordoba on Saturday to reach his first ATP Tour final with a 6-3, 7-6(6) upset. The Toronto-born World No. 144 has now won 12 consecutive sets at the Cordoba Open, including a pair of straight-set qualifying wins.
Tabilo troubled the World No. 14 throughout the nearly two-hour match, penetrating the red clay with a powerful lefty forehand and keeping his opponent off balance with several well-timed drop shots.
“I’ve been playing my best tennis for a few months now and I finished the year strong,” said Tabilo, who won his first ATP Challenger Tour title in Ecuador in November and beat Sebastian Baez in the Cordoba quarter-finals. “I think I just needed one of these weeks to kind of click and get going. Hopefully this is the start of something good, and hopefully I can keep this level.”
After racing out to a 4-0 lead in the opening set, Tabilo used strong serving to save three break points in serving out the set at 5-3. Schwartzman won the first two games of set two, but then fell victim to another four-game Tabilo run as the Chilean reestablished control on center court behind his heavy ground game.
With Tabilo on the cusp of the biggest win of his career, Schwartzman stepped up to stop his opponent from serving out the match at 5-4. The Argentine measured an on-the-run, cross-court backhand at 15-all and tracked down two drop shots to get back on serve, and the set quickly headed to a tie-break.
The tie-break went entirely on serve until a Schwartzman backhand found the net at 6-all. The match ended on another uncharacteristic Schwartzman error, as he hit long on a second-serve return.
After knocking out Baez and Schwartzman, Tabilo could face another home favourite in the title match, with Juan Ignacio Londero set to face sixth seed Albert Ramos-Vinolas of Spain in the second semi-final. Including qualifying, Tabilo has beaten five Argentines this week.
He will eclipse his previous career-high of No. 132 (achieved in November) with his run to this ATP 250 final.