Gonzales, pal cop title in Bucharest

PHOTO CAPTION: Filipino tennis ace Ruben Gonzales (right) and American Hunter Johnson pose with their trophies after winning the doubles competition of the ATP Challenger’s Tournament in Bucharest, Romania last Sunday. This is their first title as a team since pairing weeks ago and losing in five tournaments after reaching the semis./iNEWS (N. Glenn Aragon/Photo courtesy of Ruben Gonzales’ Facebook page)

(Marc Anthony Reyes/Inquirer Sports)

Ruben Gonzales has finally proven to himself that there is a career playing doubles.

The Philippine national team mainstay’s partnership with American Hunter Johnson hit pay dirt late Saturday as they captured the Association of Tennis Professionals Challenger’s Trofeul Tiriac-Nastase Championships in Bucharest, his first title since going into doubles competition full-time.

“Yes, been focused mostly on doubles the last few years and it’s great to see all my focus and hard work pay off,” the 36-year-old Gonzales said. “Yeah, it’s been a long road to get here with my partner.”

Gonzales and Johnson finally nailed their first title after reaching five semifinals in as many weeks, beating German Maximillian Marterer and Czech Lukas Rosol, 1-6, 6-2, (10-3) in the final of the $250,000 tournament.

As third seeds, the partners drubbed wildcards Alexandru Jecan and Dan Alexandru Tomescu of Romania, 6-4, 7-6(4), in the semifinals.

“I honestly felt it was a matter of time before we break through,” added Gonzales, two-time Southeast Asian Games silver winner. “We have been working extremely hard so it feels amazing for that hard work to come to fruition.”

Now ranked 199th in the world in doubles, Gonzales last won a doubles competition in 2019 in Las Vegas with Ruan Roelofse of South Africa.

Gonzales and Johnson will try to ride the crest of their triumph when they compete in another Challenger meet in Romania. (Marc Anthony Reyes/Inquirer Sports)

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