The Jakarta Post
The moment when he saw that his opponent Andrei Vasilevski could only watch as his forehand shot went down the line, Christopher “Christo” Rungkat immediately sank onto the court, hardly able to believe that he had just won the men’s doubles’ trophy at the Maharashtra Open, an ATP 250 tournament, in Pune, India on Sunday afternoon.
It was a shock for Christo as the Maharashtra trophy means that he has become the first-ever Indonesian to win an ATP trophy.
Christo previously almost made history by winning his first ATP tour title last year, reaching the final in the men’s doubles with Taiwan’s Cheng-Peng Hsieh at the Sofia Open in Bulgaria, which is also an ATP 250 tournament. Unfortunately, he and Hsieh lost in the final, bowing out to Austrian Jurgen Melzer and Croatian Nikola Mektic.
On Sunday’s final, Christo finally secured his victory as he and his partner Andre Gorranson of Sweden performed their best to clinch their maiden title together as a pair, toppling Belarusian Vasilevski and Jonathan Erlich of Israel in a match tiebreak 6-2, 3-6 and 10-8.
“I had a good start last year until the French Open. After that, I didn’t win any match for four or five months. Being in Pune, winning this title, it’s great and it has boosted my confidence for the next tournament,” he told The Jakarta Post in an interview facilitated by the ATP tour.
Having achieved good results up to the middle of last year, Christo had to struggle in the last part of the year as he and his partner Hsieh seemed as if they had lost their mojos.
The bad result after the French Open toward the end of last year resulted in the separation of Christo and Hsieh, leaving the Indonesian to find a new partner. Christo and Hsieh, who is the brother of Taiwan’s top tennis player Hsieh Su-Wei, began their partnership in 2017.
“Actually, last year, Hsieh and I had a plan to finish the year together but he had some other things in mind. He had to do several things at home. Then I had to find someone who could actually fit into the schedule and I asked him [Goransson].”
“I played him twice and I knew right away that Goransson was good for me. He complements my game. I am very grateful that he’s willing to come to Asia to play with me,” he told the Post.
“This is our fifth tournament together. We didn’t start very well last year but then we finished strong. We made the final as challenger in Japan and we made the semis last week [at the Oracle Challenger Series].”
“In our first round [here in Pune], we didn’t play so well but we managed to fight through it. And from the quarter final onward, we played probably the best matches so far. It’s good, I think we’re starting to get more of a better chemistry,” he added.
After this good result in Pune, Christo aims at penetrating the top-50 of the world ranking as he was very close to making it last year by climbing to his career best of 68th position last June before dropping to 96th at the end of last year.
The Maharashtra Open title gives the 30-year-old a ranking boost as this week he stands at 77th, an increase from 87th last week.
“I feel like we have the quality to be in the top-50. I think by the end this year we should be able to do that,” Christo continued, adding that he and Goransson would take part in the ATP Challenger in Bengaluru, India, after winning the Maharashtra.
This title means not only a great deal for Christo but also for Tennis Indonesia in general as the national squad is still struggling to awake from a long slumber. It is widely known that there has been no other player who could steal such glory since Angelique Widjaja.
Tennis Indonesia actually began this 2020 season with a good start after the junior Priska Madelyn Nugroho won the girls’ doubles at the Australian Open last month, repeating Angelique’s achievement when she won the same category in the same tournament in 2002.
“I got a lot people [from Indonesia] texting me sending congratulations. It’s big for them [and] I want tennis to be big you know. Technically, tennis is more popular than badminton, to be honest we are bigger. I want that tennis tradition to come back again probably like 20 years ago. So, winning this title will slowly bring back that gold tradition again to Indonesia,” he concluded, referring to the disparity of attention that tennis and badminton receive in the country.