Re: ATP Finals
World No. 20 Nicolas Almagro captured his sixth ATP World Tour title Sunday as he defeated top seed and defending champion Robin Soderling 7-5, 3-6, 6-2 in the final of the SkiStar Swedish Open, an ATP World Tour 250 clay-court tennis tournament in Bastad.
Almagro, who improved to a 6-2 record in ATP World Tour finals, earned 250 South African Airways 2010 ATP Ranking points and €72,150, while runner-up Soderling received 150 points and €37,900 in prize money.
“It’s a great feeling to win here,” said Almagro. “It’s always amazing to win a final and I’m very happy with the week. I’m going to enjoy this moment and then prepare for next week in Hamburg.”
Victory gave Almagro his first ATP World Tour title since triumphing at the Abierto Mexicano Telcel in 2009 with victory over Gael Monfils. All six of the Spaniard’s titles have come on outdoor clay, beginning with victory at the Valencia Open 500 in 2006 before it was moved to indoor hard court. The Murcia native is the seventh different Spaniard to win an ATP World Tour title this season and the sixth Spanish champion in the past 10 years in Bastad.
The fourth-seeded Almagro fell short in the 2007 Bastad final against David Ferrer but has impressed throughout the week with his smooth progress through the draw and carried his high-level into the final against Soderling, whom he defeated in their previous meeting on clay in Madrid.
After saving two break points in the second game of the match, Almagro took his fourth opportunity to break Soderling’s serve in the 12th game and seal a one-set lead. Soderling hit back strongly, though, racing to a 3-0 lead in the second set before going on to level the match, saving one break point as he served out the set in the ninth game.
With the match finely poised on serve in the third set, Almagro lifted his level to win the final four games from 2-2 to seal victory in just less than two hours. Victory saw him level his career series with Soderling at 3-3, avenging the defeat he suffered to the Swede in the 2009 Bastad quarter-finals.
“I didn’t play very well in the 2007 final here, but today I fought very hard and I’m really happy with the physical and mental sides to my game,” reflected Almagro. “It was a big match, a big fight and we were both battling like gladiators. Robin is a great player and I’m sure he will have many more chances to win this tournament in the future.”
The 24-year-old Almagro improved to a 33-17 mark for the season and 23-10 on clay. The right-hander’s strongest results this season have come on the crushed brick; he also reached the semi-finals in Madrid (l. to Nadal) and the quarter-finals at Roland Garros (l. to Nadal), Munich (l. to Cilic) and Acapulco (l. to Ferrero).
World No. 5 Soderling was bidding to become the second player in the past 17 years to successfully defend the Bastad title. He defeated Juan Monaco in the final last year to win his first and so far only ATP World Tour clay-court title.
The 25-year-old Soderling dropped to a 5-10 mark in tour-level finals, including a 1-3 record this season. The Tibro native won his fifth ATP World Tour title in Rotterdam (d. Youzhny) but has finished runner-up in three clay-court finals, also losing out at Roland Garros (l. to Nadal) for the second year in a row and Barcelona (l. to Verdasco).
"Too bad that I didn't get the break early in the first set. I played OK in the second set but I gave away a break in the decisive set, and that's why I lost the match," assessed Soderling. "I was very disappointed after having lost in the final."
"I have some very important tournaments coming up, and a stretch that suits my game really well," added the Swede.