09:51 PM GMT March 01, 2020
#NextGenATP Brazilian Thiago Seyboth Wild arrived at the Chile Dove Men+Care Open hoping to gain more match experience on the ATP Tour. The wild card finished it by making history for Brazil, stunning second-seeded Norwegian Casper Ruud 7-5, 4-6, 6-3 for his maiden tour-level crown in Santiago.
The 19-year-old became the youngest Brazilian titlist in ATP Tour history and the youngest champion during the Golden Swing since an 18-year-old Rafael Nadal prevailed in 2005 Acapulco. He’s also the first #NextGenATP champion of this season and the first teenager to lift a tour-level title since a 19-year-old Alex de Minaur triumphed in 2019 Sydney.
"It’s an incredible achievement. It's something I've always dreamed about," Seyboth Wild said. "I need to just take the best from the week and keep on going for the rest of the season.
"As the matches went by and I was feeling myself on court, I felt like I could go step by step. When I got to the final, I needed to play it just like another match, like I had been playing the whole week and take my chances."
At No. 182 in the FedEx ATP Rankings, Seyboth Wild is the lowest-ranked tour-level winner from Brazil in ATP Tour history. He’ll move to a new career-high standing on Monday when he leaps to No. 113.
The Brazilian has also put himself in prime position to grab one of the seven qualifying spots for this year's Next Gen ATP Finals, held from 10-14 November at the Allianz Cloud in Milan. Seyboth Wild leaped from 14th to second in the year-long ATP Race to Milan with his victory in Santiago.
Seyboth Wild weathered a challenging draw in Santiago, ousting fifth-seeded Argentine Juan Ignacio Londero in the second round before advancing past top seeded Cristian Garin when the Chilean retired due to a left leg injury. The teenager started the week with just two tour-level wins to his name.
Despite the loss, Ruud can be satisfied with his run in Santiago and start to the season. The 21-year-old Norwegian finished the Golden Swing with an 8-2 record and captured his maiden tour-level title two weeks ago in Buenos Aires (d. Sousa).
"He played amazing tennis all week. I can't be too upset about my loss," Ruud said. "He proved that he deserved his wild card and took very good care of his opportunity. Even though I'm not that experienced myself, I can see that he'll be around for many more years. Hopefully we can play many more finals together in the future."
Perhaps experiencing nerves in his first tour-level final, Seyboth Wild mistimed several forehands to drop his first two service games. But the Brazilian’s fighting spirit was on full display even when his peak form wasn’t. He saved five break points to hold serve at 1-3, earned the break back in the next game with a return winner and erased two more break points at 3-3.
Seyboth Wild was rewarded for his resistance in the final game of the set. With Ruud serving at 5-6, the second seed shanked a forehand on set point to give the Brazilian the early advantage.
The wild card maintained his momentum early in the second set, cruising through his service games while Ruud was twice forced to battle back from 0/30. With Seyboth Wild’s ATP Tour crown just two games away at 4-4, the magnitude of the occasion finally affected his tennis. He lost eight consecutive points with a stream of unforced errors to set up a decider.
Seyboth Wild quickly recovered from his patch of bad form, letting out a roar as a forehand error from Ruud gave him an early break and a 2-0 lead in the final set. The slight advantage was all he required. Seyboth Wild collapsed to the ground in delight after Ruud sent a backhand wide to end play after two hours and 17 minutes.
Seyboth Wild earned 250 FedEx ATP Rankings points and $101,285. Ruud picked up 150 points and $56,065.