Williams wins marathon Open final
A ONE-SET DEFICIT. Two tie breakers. Four match points and several bouts of cramp.
Destiny had it that Russell Moseley wouldn’t survive.
It took some pain and a fifth match point, but Seanon Williams eventually captured his second successive national championship, outlasting Moseley 7-5, 6-7 (7-4), 7-6 (10-8) in Saturday’s epic four-hour final of the Esso/Island Heritage Men’s Open at the Wildey Tennis Centre.
The game proved an instant classic, with the 8 p.m. conclusion of the marathon title contest bringing everyone to their feet. Well, everyone but those who played it.
If there was a last man standing, it was just figuratively, as Williams lay on the ground motionless while his Davis Cup teammate barely mustered the strength to hobble off the court.
Those were just a few of the telling signs of cramp, which beset both players from as early as the second set.
But it truly took its toll in the ensuing third, where Moseley was forced to just stand and deliver from the baseline when the pain in his legs restricted his court action to mere shuffles.
Still, the dreadlocked veteran managed to overcome two service breaks and a near fatal 5-3 hole in that final set, dramatically breaking his younger counterpart when Williams served for the match.
And it was arguably the shot of the game that kept Moseley alive – a lusty cross-court forehand winner that left a clueless Williams standing along the baseline in awe.
However, Williams’ superior fitness eventually won out in the tiebreaker, even after the defending champ squandered two match points at 6-4 and another two thereafter – half of which came on his serve.
But the bounce of his kick serve proved too much for the hobbled Moseley to handle on the fifth match point and the subsequent backhand return merely ended up in the middle of the net.
“I probably should have closed it out earlier but I just relaxed a little too much and lost focus,” said a spent Williams.
It was in reference to the significant advantage he held midway through the second set when Williams seemed to be cruising after winning the first set prior to consolidating an early break for a 3-0 lead.
Moseley broke two of Williams’ next three service games, producing the kind of forehand winners he’s become known for, before serving for the set leading 5-4.
However, Moseley double-faulted and hit a couple of unforced errors from the backhand side to give the break right back before eventually winning the second-set tiebreaker at four.
If only he had been as fortunate in the previous set.
Moseley squandered a similar opportunity just an hour earlier, serving for the first set with a 5-4 advantage after breaking Williams in the day’s seventh game.
But Williams saved set point with a spectacular running, forehand lob before Moseley finally lost his serve on another costly unforced error.
And if the lob proved stunning, then Williams’ inside-out forehand pass on set point was equally as sublime, as the athletic dynamo broke Moseley again to take the first set 7-5.