BEIRUT

Tennis

Baidas beats Chahine to claim Holiday Beach Open title

  • Ibrahim Abou Chahine receives the trophy during the Holiday Beach Open in Zouk Mosbeh, Thursday, June 21, 2012. (The Daily Star/Mahmoud Kheir)

NAHR AL-KALB, Lebanon: Bassam Baidas lifted his first trophy of the Lebanese tennis season Thursday, defeating Ibrahim Abou Chahine 6-2 6-1 in the Holiday Beach Open Final.

The victory is only the beginning for Baidas, who will jet to Austria for a friend’s wedding before returning for the Collina Open next Thursday. Following his double victories over Jad Karaki and Marc Doumit, giant killer Chahine would have been forgiven for expecting a reward of some sort for his remarkable efforts throughout the Holiday Beach Open.

Instead, he was up against the merciless California kid, Bassam Baidas. Chahine has tamed many a beast this week, outdoing himself in every match as he dominated his opponents with his powerful displays. Yet this beast has yet to be tamed, and in this part of town Baidas is the undisputed sheriff.

Lebanon’s finest umpire, Nicolas Sassine, was handed the reins to the match, with the players in good stead under the watchful eye of a man who has umpired the creme de la creme of tennis greats, including Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic.

A horde of spectators poured into the stands in anticipation of the contest that had all the makings of a classic. Baidas had yet to drop a set this week, and nothing short of a monumental effort was required of Chahine if he harbored any hopes of collecting the most seismic scalp of his career to date.

Two games into the match the upset was still on the cards, as Chahine collected the opening couple of games to lead 2-0. The exhibitionist was sustaining his momentum, and a previously unthinkable victory for Chahine was suddenly a very possible reality.

Baidas, though, gradually carved a route back into the match for himself, and the gifted youngster’s impeccable movement allowed him to time the ball peerlessly. His masterful nimbleness was something to behold, as the stealthy ace glided across the clay like a thief in the night.

Baidas’s sluggish start was quickly eradicated as he issued his counterpart one crushing blow after another.

The California Kid bamboozled his opponent as he surged to a 6-2 victory in the first set, winning six consecutive games without reply.

But Chahine is as determined a contender likely to be seen, with the spirited youngster refusing to be swatted away so easily.

He battled admirably, hurling everything he could muster at the expat supernova.

Unfortunately for Chahine his efforts failed to have the desired effect, and Baidas maintained his clinical rampage as he extended his consecutive games streak to 11 to lead 5-0 in the second set. Chahine willed his way to consolatory game before Baidas slammed the final nail in the coffin with another of his vicious forehands, to seal the game, set, and match 6-2, 6-1, and hoist the Holiday Beach Open trophy.

Baidas was a markedly happy man, and though Thursday’s exploits pale in comparison to what the player has achieved overseas, he will take pride in the fact that he is undoubtedly the best tennis player this country has yet to see.

The final brought the end to the season’s opening tournament, and though the players weren’t afforded the mammoth prize money of those on the ATP tour, they did receive a goodies bag of Babolat tennis equipment, courtesy of Garo sport.

In the day’s over-35s men final, stalwart and former men’s No. 1 Nabil Sassine defeated Elias Fadel 7-5 6-0 to secure the title.

Sassine will also take part in Friday’s over-45s title in a bid to achieve a brace of trophies.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on June 22, 2012, on page 14.
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