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Old 01-16-2005, 12:57 PM   #4
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Default Re: Gonzo Articles and News

Chile con carnival

16.01.05
by DYLAN CLEAVER

When Fernando Gonzalez emerged from the bowels of Stanley St shortly after 3pm yesterday, showered, changed and not looking much like a tennis star at all, he was besieged by Auckland's Chilean community.

He remained composed, acknowledged their support and, phooof! - he was gone in what seemed like a puff of smoke.

Which was much like the final of the Heineken Open: here one minute, gone the next.

In a master-class of controlled bludgeoning from both sides of the court, Gonzalez destroyed his diminutive Belgian opponent.

"He was just too good," said Rochus, which was as perceptive as it was succinct.

Gonzalez lost just 11 points on his serve in the match and just four, three of them in one game, in the second set.

He faced only two break points in the match, which he responded to with a forehand winner and a strong volley.

Rochus, on the other hand, had to fight and scrap for every point. He did it to some effect in the first set, buzzing around court like an annoying insect, returning most of what Gonzalez threw at him.

It was his only chance of winning - death by a 1000 sandfly bites.

But if he was waiting for Gonzalez to miss, he was going to be waiting a long time.

The Chilean, roared home by his faithful fans, broke in the 10th game to take the first set and the rest was one-way traffic. As it has been for Gonzalez all week.

He didn't drop a set on the way to his fifth ATP Tour title and his first on hardcourts.

"Some weeks I play bad, some weeks I play good. This was a great week," Gonzalez said.

The 24-year-old was in a rush; he had a 4.30pm plane to catch to the Australian Open, where he will meet Argentina's Jose Acasuso, who got as far as the quarter-finals in Auckland.

"The only thing I was thinking about was winning the match, not the plane," Gonzalez said. "For me it was a fantastic match."

Gonzalez said the key to his success this week had been the fact he was moving better. He put this down to increased fitness and the fact he has lost a few kilos.

Another key was that his perceived weakness was a strength.

Before Friday's semifinal his opponent Juan Ignacio Chela admitted he was going to have to find Gonzalez' backhand if he was to stand any chance. Rochus also tried this tactic.

"They play to my backhand because my forehand is my best shot, you know," he said. Neither found the holes they wanted.

The popular Chilean became the fourth South American to win New Zealand's national title after Peru's Jaime Yzaga ('92), Brazil's Gustavo Kuerten ('03) and Gonzalez' countryman Marcelo Rios seven years ago.
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