Ruben Gonzales missed out on winning a title in his first tournament for 2023 when he and Reese Stalder of the United States dropped a 6-3, 5-7, 6-10 heartbreaker to top-seeded American Robert Galloway and Mexican Hans Hach Verdugo, in Saturday’s (Sunday morning, Philippine time) finals of the ATP Challenger Cleveland Open.
Seeded second in the tournament, Gonzales and Stalder had their chances to clinch the title but could not convert during the crucial stretches of the very tight match held at the Cleveland Racquet Club in Ohio, Cleveland, USA.
After both pairs won a set apiece, Gonzales and Stalder appeared to have control of the match as they went up 5-3 in the super tiebreak. A double fault by Stalder was the opening Galloway and Hach Verdugo needed as they seized momentum and pocketed six straight points to gain quadruple match point which Gonzales and Stalder could not overhaul.
Gonzales and Stalder were on a roll all tournament long and had not dropped a set heading into the finals.
In the opening round, they made short work of Martin Breysach of France and George Goldoff of the US, 7-6 (7-3), 6-1. In the quarterfinals, the second seeds demolished Canadian Gabriel Diallo and American Alekxandar Kovacevic, 6-2, 6-3.
They followed this up with a 7-6 (8-6), 7-5 semis victory over giant killers Jonas Forejtek of the Czech Republic and Thai-Son Kwiatkowski of the US who had taken out the fourth seed in the quarterfinals.
The 37-year-old Gonzales, the 2022 SEA Games men’s doubles gold medalist along with Treat Huey, reached a career-high of 122nd in the ATP world rankings in 2022 after emerging champion of three Challenger events last year. One of those title wins was the Santo Domingo Challenger in the Dominican Republic with Stalder as his partner.
Gonzales will return to action next week when he teams up with Fernando Romboli of Brazil in the 2023 Tenerifer Challenger in Spain.