October 5, 2003
METZ, France (Ticker) - The inaugural Open de Moselle was a great tournament for the home side.
Fourth-seeded Frenchman Arnaud Clement held off No. 3 Fernando Gonzalez of Chile, 6-3, 1-6, 6-3, Sunday to win the indoor event.
Local wild cards Julien Benneteau and Nicolas Mahut beat countrymen Michael Llodra and Fabrice Santoro, 7-6 (7-2), 6-3, marking the first time since 1996 at Marseille that France swept both titles at an ATP tournament.
Clement's only other title also came in his own country. He had lost three finals since winning Lyon in 2000.
"Lyon 2000 was really a distant memory and it feels great to win my second title in France again," said Clement, who evened his lifetime record against Gonzalez to 3-3. "I had lost a few finals after Lyon and it would have hurt a lot to lose here."
From Aix-en-Provence, Clement missed the first three months of the season with a right wrist injury. He dropped just one set in five matches this week.
"It's not just about this week's efforts, it's all the hard work I've put in with my coach of two years, Remi Barbarin," Clement said. "Since getting together the goal was to win my second ATP title, so I dedicate this victory to him and his academy. It's not a relief but more like a great job for both of us to win this title."
The 25-year-old Clement is the second French player to win an ATP event in 2003 after Julien Boutter in Casablanca. Boutter, who is from Metz, helped the tournament organizers run this year's event after undergoing shoulder surgery on September 11.
"It's been a great week for French tennis and I hope there will be more titles to come in the rest of the season," Clement said. "I'm happy to join Julien as the second ATP winner this year and I wish him a speedy recovery. I'm also happy to have won here for the first edition of this event. It's great for us French players to have opportunities like this to play at home."
Gonzalez's title drought continued. He won a pair of tournaments last year, the last coming at Palermo in September 2002.
"Unfortunately, that's the way tennis goes," said the 23-year-old Chilean, who has had injury woes this season. "I know Arnaud well, he's a great player and he played well today. I was not surprised by his tactics today.
"A la base, nous les Français, sommes les champions du monde des râleurs. J'ai l'impression qu'être français, c'est un peu un handicap pour être le meilleur dans ton sport.
Pour faire du sport de haut niveau, d'autres mentalités sont plus propices".