THE man nicknamed Hands of Stone got his hands on some silverware at Calderstones Park on Saturday. And Fernando Gonzalez enjoyed the experience so much he has vowed to return to the Liverpool International Tennis Tournament.
The Chilean known as Manos A Piedre (Stone hands) because of the ferocity of his forehand pounded Portugal’s Frederico Gil into submission in the tournament final to lift the silver trophy at the first attempt. Gonzalez triumphed 6-1 7-6 (10-8) and declared afterwards: “I have had a great week in Liverpool. I think this tournament is amazing. The fact it is in a park is truly unique. I will be returning!”
The Chilean, a popular winner, now moves on to Wimbledon where he faces number 22 seed Alexandr Dolgopolov in the first round. Gonzalez will be hoping to emulate his best ever Wimbledon showing of 2005 when he reached the quarter-finals, leaning on the confidence gleaned from three days playing on the Calderstones Park grass.
In a fairy tale ladies final match-up, Martina Hingis – no stranger to lifting trophies with nine Grand Slam victories to her name – overcame local girl Chloe Murphy.
Murphy, who reached the final by beating last year’s defending champion Eugenie Bouchard, started well.
But Hingis’ class shone through as he won the Pro Set format 8-2. Afterwards Chloe declared: “It was a great experience. I loved every minute of it and will treasure it forever.” The 18 year old Liverpool girl has played at the Liverpool tournament for the past five years and has been fortunate enough to play against some of the WTA’s finest players including, current number 1, Caroline Wozniacki.
Tournament Director, Anders Borg said: “I started this event to give people like Chloe a stage to show their talent and the opportunity to play against professionals on the circuit. What makes today even better for me is that a Liverpool girl has made to the final of the 10th Liverpool International and she is coached by one of our performance academy coaches! As far as I’m concerned – it doesn’t get better than that!”
Anthony Hardman, her coach of 10 years and Head Performance Coach of Northern Vision’s Academies, added: “I have been Chloe’s coach for 10 years, what she has done this week is amazing and will be a great send off for her before she goes off to the states on Collegiate Scholarship at Texas Tech.
“Bouchard is the Number 8 Junior in the world and for Chloe to beat her is amazing.” With the ATP players heading to Wimbledon on Saturday night ahead of today’s All England Championships, the legends lit up the courts yesterday with a series of sparkling exhibitions.
The two Martinas, Navratilova and Hingis, squared up in a singles match, followed by a doubles exhibition featuring Mikael Pernfors, Greg Rusedski, Barry Cowan and the one and only Mansour Bahrami.