Final Eliminator from Chicago

It’s Fahey vs Riviere!!!
Camden Riviere wins the first three sets on the second day to win the match 7 sets to 0, 6/5 6/3 6/1 6/1 6/2 6/3 6/4. (Match report from the T&RA)

Tuesday 18th March
Steve opened the match taking the first game but Cam responded to level the match 1-all. He then extended his lead to 3-1 with a deuce game and then a love game. Cam continued to find the grille and edged ahead to 4-1, but Steve countered with two main wall dedans and a grille to close the gap to 2-4, in a love game.

Riviere defended two long chases successfully and hit the grille to lead 5-2. With Steve serving and playing with more purpose and aggression, he pulled back to 3-5. A wonderful reste followed at 30-all but Virgona won both chases to trail by a game, 4-5. He then saved two set points, which led to three deuces, before finally levelling 5-all. The eleventh game reached 30-all, before Cam had a further set point, admirably defended by Steve. But Cam took his fourth set point to gain the early initiative, 6/5.

Again, it was Cam who made the early running and reached 4-1, playing exceptional recovery shots and making it increasingly difficult for Steve to kill the ball. Virgona needed to respond but Cam hit two more grilles to lead 40-0. Steve now showed remarkable patience to inch back into the game, reaching deuce. Two more deuces followed before he secured the game, 2-4. Virgona continued to inch back to 3-4, but Riviere now steadied his game to lead 5-3. Another set point for Cam but Steve hits the grille for deuce. Another set point went begging but he took his third and the second set; 6/3. This now meant Cam could not be beaten on the night, leading by two sets to love.

Both players started the third set cagily to reach 1-all. The long third game saw both players hold the advantage but once again Cam persevered to 2-1. Three winning shots helped him to 3-1, followed by two quick games to 5-1. He only needed one set point this time, winning a hazard chase and the third set 6/1; three sets to love. The Chicago spectators remained very quiet.

Riviere now stepped up his game and looked unbeatable. Steve started the fourth set more aggressively and a long first game ensued, but it was Cam who took it after multiple deuces. This inspired Cam to race ahead to 5-1, by now hitting the grille with ease. In the seventh game, he reached three set points and took the first one – 6/1. The result gave Camden a perfect lead after the first day’s play; with Steve needing to find something for Thursday’s encounter.

Thursday 20th March
The second day’s play opened with the players sharing the first two games but it was Cam who forged ahead and established a 4-1 lead. Some unforced errors from Steve in the sixth game extended the lead to 5-1. Cam then went on to secure the set 6/2 and extend his lead to five sets to love.

The sixth set saw Riviere continue his dominance, winning the first two games. A long, third game followed and both players had game points but Cam maintained his momentum to lead 3-0. Steve fought back to 3-all to stem the flood, hitting his targets and playing with much more consistency. An inspired Riviere then lifted his game to reach 5-3, before holding two set points in the next game and converting the first to win the set 6/3. He had extended his lead to six sets to love; and needed just one more set.

Virgona took the first game of the seventh set, but Cam’s resilience seemed unstoppable as he recovered to 2-1. An inspired Steve found some momentum to lead 4-2, winning three games in a row, playing some clever tennis. Riviere then played two perfect games to level at 4-all and then another to lead 5-4. Cam took the seventh (and final) set 6/4 on his first match point. He had won the match seven sets to love and wins the right to play Rob Fahey in Melbourne in May for the World Championship.

Alistair Curley
Chair of Tennis