Boris Pasanski had to settle for a silver medal yesterday after being beaten by Benjamin Balleret 7-6 3-6 6-2 in the men's singles tennis final at the indoor court of the L'Aldosa Sports Complex.
The Serbia-born player, ranked 295 in the world, was tipped as favourite to win this tournament but Balleret, 400th in the world list, saw that the gold medal went to Monaco instead.
The first set went to Balleret after winning a tie break 7-4. In the next set Pasanski broke his opponent in the fifth game to level the match after winning the set 6-2.
In the decisive set Balleret showed better composure in his play and buoyed by his excellent first serve, he opened a 5-1 lead. Pasanski managed to break his opponent in the seventh game but that was just a temporary reprieve as the Monegasque hit back in the next game to claim the honours.
"This was a disappointing result, no doubt," a dejected Pasanski said.
"The whole tournament has been very difficult for me because these are not my favourite conditions. I prefer clay and anyone with these characteristics will struggle a lot to play on hard court.
"Besides, the climatic conditions inevitably made it even more difficult for all players as the ball gained more speed. I think this tournament went to the player with the best serve."
Despite the upset of losing the final, Pasanski, who has been residing in Malta for almost four years now, is already looking to make up in two years' time in Monaco if he's in the selection again.
"My commitment to the tennis federation is still 100 per cent," Pasanski said.
"At the moment I feel very frustrated because I really wanted to give this medal to the Maltese. But there's nothing I can do now. What I'm sure of is that I want to play for Malta again in the next GSSE."
National coach Dusan Janicijevic said it was only natural to be down after losing a final but he said the Maltese should be proud of Boris just the same.
"Perhaps, this is the start of a new era for men's tennis in Malta," the Serbian coach said.
"Never in the history of the GSSE, had Malta won a medal in the men's singles.
"For our player the conditions were really difficult in Andorra and he also had to cope with some wrong judgements by the umpires.
"But I am not blaming anyone. I think the tournament should not have been played indoors. With over 1,500m of altitude the ball moves at over 200km/h... so don't blame the refs for bad calls."
The ladies' singles final was also played yesterday.
Luxembourg top seed Mandy Minella, who eliminated Lisa Camenzuli in the semi-finals, took gold after defeating Stephanie Vogt, of Liechtenstein, 6-3 6-3.
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