The 2018 Big Apple Open ended in unfortunate fashion as world No. 1 Manek Mathur sustained what appeared to be a severe Achilles injury midway through the second game of the final, forcing an immediate retirement and handing the 2018 title to Yvain Badan & Bernardo Samper Monday night at New York Athletic Club.
The final appeared to be well poised for the NYAC crowd as the top two seeds collided in one of the SDA Tour’s staple events.
Mathur rekindled his Maryland Club Open-winning partnership with Chris Callis and progressed through the draw with the same impeccable form that has seen the Indian international go undefeated for his last nineteen tournaments, spanning three seasons and dating back to the 2016 Maryland Club Open final loss nearly three years ago to the month.
The top seeds made a blistering start to the final with a decisive 15-5 score line, but the two seeds returned more resolute in the second game. At 7-all, Mathur pulled up awkwardly, unsure of what had transpired at first, until the reality of the injury set in. Callis, Badan and Samper as well as members of the crowd rushed to his aid and emergency services arrived shortly after to treat Mathur.
While both Samper & Badan mark their first career Big Apple Open title, both players could only focus on the well-being of their opponent, fellow Trinity alum and friend.
“There’s no celebration for us right now, we just feel horrible for Manek,” Badan said. “There’s no worse way to win a match. You never want to see that happen to anybody, no less someone you’re so close to. We all went to school together, we’re best friends, and it’s even more tough seeing how much of the season is still down the line and knowing how long it will take him to recover.”
The injury will no doubt have re-seeding and draw implications for the rest of the season as the tour prepares to descend on Westchester Country Club with an SDA Platinum draw this weekend.
“It really sucks, especially to see the caliber player he is and everything he’s doing for the tour,” Samper said. “He’s the best player, perhaps in history, and he’s been training really hard for this season, and to see it in the second game of the final is really sad. We wish him the best in his recovery and we need him back on the tour as soon as possible.”
Mathur had won the past two Big Apple Opens with Damien Mudge, including a 2017 final win over Samper & Callis. Badan reached the 2014 final with Mathur and the 2016 final with Mike Ferreira.
“We’re grateful to the Big Apple Open, they’re always a steady event every year,” Badan said. “Pat Canavan and his staff do a wonderful job and we’re grateful to everyone here. We’re just upset for Manek and that we couldn’t give them more of a final.”