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Old 12-04-2010, 02:22 PM   #16
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Argentina 2010

Second-seeded Spaniard Juan Carlos Ferrero continued his impressive run on clay, winning his second ATP World Tour title in as many weeks after rallying past top-seeded countryman David Ferrer 5-7, 6-4, 6-3 on Sunday at the Copa Telmex, an ATP World Tour 250 tournament in Buenos Aires.

The former World No. 1, the second two-time winner on the ATP World Tour this season after Croatian Marin Cilic, collected $81,400 and 250 South African Airways 2010 ATP Rankings points with his victory. Meanwhile, fellow Valencia native Ferrer earned $42,850 – allowing him to surpass $7 million in career prize money earnings – and 150 points.

“I feel unbelievable after winning two weeks in a row,” said Ferrero. “It is a great feeling. I think the key to my current success is the physical work I have done. I have been working very hard and I know that I can be on the court forever. That helps my game a lot because I get to the ball much earlier and can be more aggressive.

“This also helps me mentally. I feel very strong and know that I have more resources now when playing important points. I have been working with a friend on the mental aspect and all is coming into place.”

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Ferrero captured his 14th tour-level title from 31 finals, including his 11th title on clay. He claimed his first trophy in South America last week at the Brasil Open in Costa do Sauipe (d. Kubot), two days after celebrating his 30th birthday. Last April, Ferrero snapped a six-year title drought by winning the ATP World Tour 250 clay-court tournament in Casablanca.

After beginning the season with opening-round losses at the Heineken Open in Auckland and the Australian Open, the World No. 22 has now won 10 straight matches. It is the fifth time Ferrero has won 10 or more matches in a row; he enjoyed a 16-match winning streak in 2002 with titles at Barcelona and Rome, and a 10-match winning streak in 2003 inclusive of his Grand Slam triumph at Roland Garros.

“My goal is to get back to the Top 10,” said Ferrero. “This victory makes me believe in this goal. I don’t have much to defend in Acapulco, Indian Wells and Miami so I hope I will do well, get extra [South African Airways 2010 ATP Rankings] points and move up in the rankings.”

Ferrer had entered the final with a 5-1 lead in the head-to-head series against Ferrero, including wins in their previous two clay matches, and earned the early lead in their first final meeting. He broke in the opening game of the match, and though Ferrero hit back to level the score at 3-3, Ferrer broke again to lead 6-5 and closed out the opening set on serve.

Ferrero broke his countryman to send the match to a decisive set, and though Ferrer recovered a service break early in the third set, the No. 2 seed won the final three games to clinch the win in two hours and 32 minutes.

“Today’s match was as expected,” said Ferrero. “It was very tough, intense. We have known each other forever as we are best friends. Even when we practice, we know it is going to be very close match. We read each other’s game very well. With him you know that he is going to get balls that other players wouldn’t. I think the fact that the court was a little slower and the wind played to my benefit today. The third set I made myself believe I could win, and I played more aggressive.”

The 27-year-old Ferrer was looking to win his first title since claiming the grass-court crown in 2008 at the UNICEF Open in ‘s-Hertogenbosch. He has now dropped his past three title matches, including runner-up finishes last year in Dubai (l. to Djokovic) and Barcelona (l. to Nadal), to fall to a 7-8 record in ATP World Tour finals.

"It was a great match with a very high level of tennis from both sides,” said the World No. 19. “Each time we play we know we are going to play with a lot of rhythm and whoever is in better shape takes the match. It was very intense and we both had our chances. In the third set he played much more aggressively than I did and that made a difference in the important points.”

Ferrer posted his 300th match win on the ATP World Tour on Saturday with victory over Russian Igor Andreev in the quarter-finals.
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Old 12-04-2010, 02:23 PM   #17
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Dubai 2010

Defending champion Novak Djokovic let slip his commanding lead when the rain-delayed Dubai final resumed Sunday but steadied to beat Mikhail Youzhny 7-5, 5-7, 6-3. Djokovic reversed the result of his semi-final meeting with Youzhny in the Rotterdam semi-finals two weeks ago.

World No. 2 Djokovic had a grueling run to the title, rallying from a set down against Marcos Baghdatis (semis), Ivan Ljubicic (quarters) and Viktor Troicki (second round) before going three sets for the fourth consecutive match against Youzhny in the final.

Appearing in his first final of the year, the Serb won his 17th career title. He became the second player in tournament history (since 1993) to win back-to-back titles. (Roger Federer won three in a row from 2003-05.)

Djokovic won $383,000 and collected 500 South African Airways 2010 ATP Rankings points; Youzhny, who slipped to 5-9 in ATP World Tour finals, took $180,000 and 300 points.

Djokovic said that defending a title for the first time in his career – particularly when he did not play his best tennis at times – demonstrated significant maturity in his game and mental approach. “It means the whole world to me. Of course there are always people who are saying he can't do it. He can't do it. But I'm playing for myself, and this is another success in my career that I wasn't able to make in the last two years. But now, finally, I did it, and it's a big relief. So in the future I just hope I'll make a couple more of those.

“It's a big boost because I believe in myself. Even when I play bad, I know I have the abilities… Today was another good example of how much I believe in myself and how much I fight till the end.”

When play was abandoned Saturday night due to torrential rain, Djokovic held a commanding 7-5, 2-0 lead. At the resumption of play in much brighter conditions on Sunday afternoon, Youzhny immediately pressed to recoup the service break, breaking back in the fifth game with a sizzling backhand winner up the line.

The turning point in the set came in the eighth game. Djokovic had a point to secure a 5-3 lead, but over hit his forehand into the open court and Youzhny made him pay in the following game as he broke serve to secure a 5-4 lead. The Russian was denied by Djokovic the first time he served for the set, but immediately broke the Serbian’s serve again and at the second time of asking leveled the match with a love service game.

In the third set, after digging himself of a 15/40 hole at 3-3, Djokovic broke Youzhny in the following game to take a stranglehold on the match.

Djokovic quipped that fans who watched his matches – including those who showed up Sunday when the match could easily have finished quickly in straight sets – got value for money.

“Obviously this tournament I don't allow myself to win in straight sets except the first round. Even when I can finish the job in two sets, I still want to play. Thinking about people who bought tickets and want to stay a bit longer (laughing).

“But, generally, it took a lot of energy for me. Stopping and playing, and coming back and then again stopping the match last night because of the rain. As I was saying, if we continued last night, I think I had much better chances to get the job done in two sets. I felt really well on the court, hitting the ball, feeling relaxed. Today I was really nervous before the match, during the match for no reason. [But] winning the tournament in any way, it's a huge success.”

Youzhny said that he had mixed feelings about finishing runner-up in Dubai for the second time. "Before the tournament if you say you'll play the final, you say good result. But now straight after the final, when you have some chances [I am disappointed]… It was good match for me. It was a good level of tennis. I'm disappointed because I lost, but I'm happy because it was a good level of game.

“It was a very close set. Today I understand I have to try to play aggressive, maybe more aggressive than normal if I want to continue, if I want to save this match."
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Old 12-04-2010, 02:24 PM   #18
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Acapulco 2010

David Ferrer avenged his loss to Juan Carlos Ferrero in last week’s Buenos Aires title match and denied his fellow Spaniard a piece of Latin American swing history with a fighting win in the final of the Abierto Mexicano Telcel in Acapulco Saturday night. After the close friends split the first two sets, Ferrer broke open the match by winning five consecutive games to start the third set en route to a 6-3, 3-6, 6-1 victory.

“It was a hard fought match," reflected Ferrer. "We were running a lot out there. The points were very intense from the first game until the last. In the third set I think he started feeling tired and I took advantage of that. I knew he was coming from a sequence of tournaments so I kept pushing."

Ferrer, 27, won his eighth ATP World Tour title, and the first since 2008, when he won two titles in ‘s-Hertogenbosch and Valencia. The former Barclays ATP World Tour Finals finalist, has now won 12 of his past 14 matches, dating back to his semi-final run in Johannesburg. He began the year in more modest fashion, with a first-round loss to Auckland and a second-round defeat at the Australian Open.

World No. 17 Ferrer improved to 6-2 in career meetings with Ferrero.

"Our games are very similar and we also know each other very well so there are not many secrets on the court," explained Ferrer. "Juan Carlos is a very good friend but once we step on the court we try to forget that and play as hard as we can. I hope I can play many more finals against Juan Carlos. It was a long time since I last won a title. It feels great to win the title in Acapulco."

Ferrer collects $227,000 and 500 South African Airways 2010 ATP Ranking points, while runner-up Ferrero pockets $106,500 and 300 points.

Ferrero was attempting to become the first player to win three titles during the four-week Latin American swing following his back-to-back triumphs in Costa do Sauipe and Buenos Aires. The former World No. 1 came into the final riding a 14-match winning streak, the second longest of his career.

"It was a good match. We were fighting for every point and in the beginning of the third set I thought he played better than me and that was the difference," commented Ferrero. “It was a very physical match. The difference from last week in Buenos Aires is that I was not being able to attack him.

“David is one of my best friends in the circuit. I am happy for him winning the title in Acapulco. He deserved it," added Ferrero.

The last time the same two players played in consecutive finals in back-to-back weeks was in 2001, when Gustavo Kuerten defeated Patrick Rafter in Cincinnati and then Rafter got his revenge the following week in Indianapolis.
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Old 12-04-2010, 02:26 PM   #19
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Delray Beach 2010



Latvian Ernests Gulbis put a damper on Ivo Karlovic’s 31st birthday celebration, defeating the second-seeded Croat 6-2, 6-3 on Sunday at the Delray Beach International Tennis Championships to claim his first ATP World Tour title.

Gulbis earned 250 South African Airways 2010 ATP Ranking points and $75,700 as the champion of the ATP World Tour 250 hard-court tennis tournament, while Karlovic collected $39,780 in prize money and 150 points.

The 21 year old became the second first-time winner on the ATP World Tour this season, joining American John Isner who won the Heineken Open title in Auckland. He also became the first Latvian to win an ATP World Tour title.

“Everything what I do now is first time for my country,” said Gulbis. “Of course it’s great. I hope it’s positive. I hope much more players will start to practise in Latvia. It’s good for tennis in Latvia. They see that a guy from Latvia also can make it and win an ATP World Tour event.”

Karlovic had held 46 of his 47 service games entering the title match, but was unable to maintain his form against the first-time ATP World Tour finalist. After denying Karlovic on his two break point chances, World No. 72 Gulbis won four straight games to race through the opening set in 34 minutes.

Gulbis grabbed another break to go up 2-1 in the second set, and earned match points on Karlovic’s serve in the ninth game. Though Karlovic dug deep to save three chances with aces, a double-fault set up a fourth match point for Gulbis, proving enough for the Latvian to close out the match in one hour and 20 minutes.

“I felt comfortable,” Gulbis said. “I like being in the final. I felt nobody’s giving me pressure. If I’m not putting pressure on myself, then it’s fine. I was relaxed. My coach told me before the match, ‘Just go on court. Enjoy, it’s your first final. You’re a young guy. Enjoy it, play good tennis.’”

“He was playing really good. Everything that he hit was in. As good as I was playing yesterday, this is how he was playing today,” said Karlovic, adding, “He was very cool, calm. Nothing could impress him. This year is going to be his breakthrough.”

Gulbis did not win his 10th tour-level match until mid-June at Wimbledon last year, but is off to a 10-4 start through the first two months of the 2010 season. He opened the year with a quarter-final showing at the Qatar ExxonMobil Open (l. to Federer), and reached the semi-finals last week at the Regions Morgan Keegan Championships (l. to Querrey). It was his first semi-final since his ATP World Tour debut, in 2006 at St. Petersburg, a stretch of 65 tournaments.

He is projected to return to the Top 50 of the South African Airways 2010 ATP Rankings following his title win. He reached a career-high No. 38 in August 2008.

Karlovic was looking to win his first title since 2008 at the grass-court tournament in Nottingham, and fell to a 4-3 record in ATP World Tour finals.

Despite the loss, the 33rd-ranked Croat stands alongside Marcos Baghdatis at No. 5 on the list of 2010 match wins leaders with a 13-5 record. He also reached the quarter-finals at Doha, Zagreb and Memphis, and achieved a personal-best fourth round showing at the Australian Open (l. to Nadal).

“I was playing well all week,” said Karlovic, who fired 14 aces in the final to finish the week with a tournament-high 89. “Today it was a little bit worse. This is life. Sometimes you play good, sometimes you play not so good. What is important I’m healthy and overall I was playing well all this year. Next week is Davis Cup, after Indian Wells, so I will look forward to that.”

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Old 12-04-2010, 02:27 PM   #20
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Indian wells 2010

Croatian Ivan Ljubicic completed his giant-slaying run at the BNP Paribas Open, defeating World No. 8 Andy Roddick 7-6(3), 7-6(5) on Sunday afternoon in Indian Wells to capture his first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title.

He capitalized on his fourth championship point, hitting a huge serve that Roddick was unable to return, and savored the moment with a mixture of disbelief, relief and happiness etched on his face after runner-up finishes in his three previous ATP World Tour Masters 1000 finals.

“Looking at my career in general, I did feel like I was missing it,” said Ljubicic. “It's really fantastic feeling to finally have it. It gives something special to your career. It's just another thing that after Davis Cup, Olympic medal and two Top 10 finishes, one Top 5 finish and now in Masters 1000, it makes everything look better actually.”

Watch Sunday Highlights | Watch Ljubicic Interview

The championship match lived up to its billing as a battle between big servers, with neither player dropping serve during the two-hour, seven-minute final. Though both players came up against tricky situations early on, with Roddick facing triple break point on serve in the first game and Ljubicic in the fourth, both reeled off five straight points to get out of trouble.

After playing what he called the “best tie-break of my life” against Rafael Nadal on Saturday, Ljubicic once again came up big against Roddick, despite the American’s impressive 14-2 mark to his 3-4 mark in tie-breaks this season. He put Roddick on the defensive as he took the early mini-breaks in each, and held on to edge the American both times.

Ljubicic, who double-faulted on his first championship point, said about his play in the tie-breaks: “I think it was more mental. Both tie-breaks I felt more relaxed, especially in the second tie-break. In fact, there was some strange things happening by the end of that match, but that just shows you how relaxed I was.”

The victory capped off a tremendous week for the Croatian, who posted an upset win over World No. 2 Novak Djokovic in the fourth round and No. 3 Rafael Nadal in the semi-finals, and in between celebrated his 31st birthday on Friday.

Watch Ljubicic's Sunday Hot Shot

The 26th-ranked Ljubicic became the first player outside the Top 20 to capture an ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title since World No. 21 David Nalbandian won the Paris title in November 2007 (d. Nadal).

Coincidentally, the other two players ranked outside the Top 20 to claim the Indian Wells title (since 1990) were also ranked No. 26, with Alex Corretja defeating Thomas Enqvist in 2000 and Jim Courier defeating Guy Forget in 1991.

With his effort over this past fortnight, the former World No. 3 – who has now won 10 tour-level titles – will move back into the Top 20 in the South African Airways 2010 ATP Rankings on Monday for the first time since January 2008. He is projected to climb to around No. 13.

“I want to fight for [the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals in] London and try to finish Top 10 another year,” he said. “But it's not gonna be easy, that's for sure. Just the fact that I won here doesn't make me No. 3, 5 player in the world. I have to be realistic enough and try to steal that maybe 7th or 8th spot from younger guys who might be injured or not fit and not consistent enough (laughter). But it's a long season in front of us, so who knows what it's gonna bring us.”

Roddick, who was contesting the BNP Paribas Open final for the first time in eight appearances, was attempting to complete his collection of ATP World Tour Masters 1000 titles in North America. The 27 year old won Montreal in 2003, Miami in 2004, and Cincinnati in 2003 and '06.

“I played well. I hit the ball real well, even today,” said Roddick, who had held six break point opportunities. “I felt like I was winning my fair share of the rallies once we got into them. I just ran into a guy who served great on the big points. Unfortunately that's probably the one thing that I don't have control over out there. Credit to him. He came up with massive, massive serves when he had to.”
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Old 12-04-2010, 02:28 PM   #21
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Miami 2010

Andy Roddick capped his best American hard court swing since 2006 when he won his second Sony Ericsson Open title to lift the inaugural Butch Buchholz trophy. Roddick defeated Tomas Berdych 7-5, 6-4, ending the Czech’s giant-killing run that claimed a trio of Top 10 seeds: Roger Federer, Fernando Verdasco and Robin Soderling.

Roddick took time out during the trophy presentation to pay tribute to Buchholz, the founder and retiring chairman of the event, who gave Roddick a wild card into the event 10 years ago when he was a 17-year-old rookie. “It’s nice that it’s now come full circle,” Roddick said.

Asked what most pleased him about the title run, Roddick said: “I won in different ways. I changed it up against Rafa and today I was smart with chipping and mixing paces, which kept him guessing. I held onto my serve well throughout and played a pretty smart tournament.”

Former World No. 1 Roddick did not face a break point in the match and dropped serve just twice in the tournament, including once during his masterful win over Rafael Nadal in three sets in the semi-finals.

Roddick, who won his first Sony Ericsson Open title in 2004, claimed his first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title since Cincinnati in 2006, a year in which he also made a run to the US Open final. Two weeks ago Roddick was the beaten finalist at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournament in Indian Wells. His title run at the Sony Ericsson Open marks the first time since 2003 (Montreal and Cincinnati) that Roddick has reached the final of back-to-back ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournaments.

“Obviously it's a big title for me,” he said afterwards. “I felt a little bit of pressure to win this one because I had a pretty good opportunity in Indian Wells and didn't come through there.

“But I think just the last month has been real good for me. I've played well on the big moments. Haven't had an off day mentally. I've been able to execute. I've been able to have a game plan and execute it regardless of what kind of shots it takes. So it's all good. It's all encouraging.”

In claiming his fifth ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title, Roddick increased his haul of tour-level titles to 29 from 49 finals. The 27-year-old Austin, Tx., resident, leads the ATP World Tour with a 26-4 match record this season.

In the first set against Berdych Roddick twice rallied from 0-30 deficits, although neither player faced a break point until 5-5, when the Czech was the first to crack. Berdych offered up his second break point of the game with a double fault at deuce and then, after almost double faulting again, sprayed a forehand well long to hand Roddick a 6-5 lead. Roddick then served out the set to love, ending with his fifth ace.

Berdych was unable to exert pressure when Roddick missed his first serve, winning just one of 11 second serve points. He also paid the price for 19 unforced errors – most off his forehand wing - to Roddick’s nine.

Berdych began the second set with two tentative net approaches and Roddick earned a break point with a cross-court backhand passing shot and then claimed the early break when Berdych hit another forehand long. That was all the opening needed by Roddick, who won 61 of 63 service games during the tournament.

“He was playing pretty well as you can see on the court,” said Berdych. “He was really good today. He was really strong, serving well. I was really looking for maybe to get one chance or maybe one is enough. But he [held] pretty well. I didn't get any chance during whole match during both two sets. So that's well played for him.”

Berdych was attempting to become the first player in 20 years outside the South African Airways ATP Rankings Top 20 to win the Sony Ericsson Open title.

“I'm happy for this maybe two weeks, ten days, whatever it is, that I played a couple of really good matches,” said the Czech. “I felt great here. Everything was good. So just give me a lot of confidence [for the] next weeks in the season. Just looking forward to it. Go for another tournament.”

Attendance for the 2010 Sony Ericsson Open shattered the previously held mark of 297,011 set back in 2008. This year's tournament saw 312,386 fans pass through the turnstiles. The tournament recorded nine session records, including four straight (sessions 13-16). Overall the tournament recorded 11 session sellouts, breaking the record for most sold out sessions set in 2008. Session 16 marked the first time in tournament history that grounds passes were issued during a non-weekend evening. The men's final sold out on March 8, the earliest sellout for the men's final, in the history of the Sony Ericsson Open.
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Old 12-04-2010, 02:29 PM   #22
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Morocco 2010

ATP World Tour No. 23 Stanislas Wawrinka won the second title of his career Sunday as he comfortably dismissed third seed Victor Hanescu 6-2, 6-3 in the final of the Grand Prix Hassan II in Casablanca.

As winner of the ATP World Tour 250 clay-court tennis tournament, the first Swiss to lift the trophy in its 21-year history, Wawrinka earned 250 South African Airways 2010 ATP Ranking points and €72,150. Runner-up Hanescu received 150 ranking points and €37,900 in prize money.

Victory ended a run of five successive defeats for Wawrinka in ATP World Tour finals, with the Swiss most recently having finished runner-up at the Aircel Chennai Open (l. to Cilic) at the start of the season. He also won his first ATP World Tour title on red clay, triumphing at the ATP Studena Croatia Open (d. Djokovic) in Umag in 2006, and has a 2-6 record in finals.

"I'm very happy with my win today," said Wawrinka. "I've lost five finals in a row and now finally I have the trophy in my hands. I felt great during the whole match and never allowed Victor to get into the game. I think this was my best match of the week."

After a tricky route through to the final on his debut appearance in Casablanca, Wawrinka needed just 77 minutes to prevail in the title match. The top seed, who had twice been extended to three sets in the earlier rounds, made a strong start to the match by breaking serve to lead 3-1. He went on to close out a commanding one-set lead by breaking serve again in the eighth game.

Hanescu came into the clash with the confidence of having beaten Wawrinka in both their previous encounters – both on clay – but he could not deny the Lausanne native in their third meeting. Wawrinka broke serve twice to race to a 5-1 lead in the second set and, despite being broken as he served for the match, was able to close out victory at the second time of asking.

Victory in Casablanca also marks Wawrinka’s first title as a father, after he and wife, Ilham became parents to daughter, Alexia on 12 February. The 25-year-old Wawrinka had only played twice since the birth of his daughter coming into Casablanca, representing Switzerland in its first-round Davis Cup defeat to Spain and reaching the third round at the Sony Ericsson Open in Miami.

"This is a great start to the clay court season and I hope to continue like that," said Wawrinka. "Now I look forward to next week in Monte-Carlo where my wife and daughter will travel with me for the first time."

Next week Wawrinka will contest the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters, where he defeated countryman and then-World No. 2 Roger Federer en route to the semi-finals last year. He will have the chance to level his head-to-head with Hanescu at 2-2 when the pair meets again in the first round of the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournament.

The No. 43-ranked Hanescu was contesting his fourth ATP World Tour final, having not won back-to-back matches all season prior to his run in Casablanca. The Romanian’s lone title came at the 2008 Allianz Suisse Open Gstaad (d. Andreev).

"Today Stan was just too good for me," admitted Hanescu. "It is still a week of good tennis and it was great to play in front of full crowds here in Casablanca in this great atmosphere."
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Old 12-04-2010, 02:30 PM   #23
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Houston 2010

Contesting his first ATP World Tour final in more than three years, Juan Ignacio Chela of Argentina rallied past third-seeded American Sam Querrey 5-7, 6-4, 6-3 on Sunday to claim the title at the US Men’s Clay Court Championship in Houston.

Chela won his fifth clay-court title from his 10th ATP World Tour final, his first since defeating Carlos Moya in 2007 at the Abierto Mexicano Telcel in Acapulco, and said afterwards: “Right now I feel wonderful. No words.”

As the winner of the ATP World Tour 250 tournament, Chela earned $79,900 in prize money and 250 South African Airways 2010 ATP Rankings points, which will push the Argentine up approximately 30 spots to around No. 50 when the new rankings are released Monday. The 30 year old, a former World No. 15, last ranked in the Top 50 in July 2008 and was ranked No. 166 at this point last year.

He said: “I’ve always said that as long as I’m enjoying the competition and I’m getting this adrenaline from the matches, I’m going to keep playing as long as I’m happy and especially after this win.”

World No. 25 Querrey assumed the early lead in his first clay-court final as he broke in the eleventh game and served out the set. After failing to convert on his two break chances in the second set, however, he saw Chela draw level as he dropped serve at set point for the Argentine.

Querrey began the decisive set with a break of serve, but the lead proved short-lived. Chela broke back in the next game and continued to put pressure on his opponent’s serve, with eight break point opportunities. He went up 5-4 after setting up triple break point and successfully served out the victory in two hours and 24 minutes.

“I grew up playing on clay courts so I’m used to staying in it,” said Chela. “It does get very difficult to be aggressive all the time on clay. Even [Roger] Federer sometimes has struggles with it. However, I think that that was the key here. I took my chances to be aggressive.”

It marked Chela’s fourth straight win over a seeded player this week, having upset No. 7 Eduardo Schwank in the second round, No. 4 seed and defending champion Lleyton Hewitt in the quarter-finals, and No. 6 Horacio Zeballos in the semi-finals. Coming into Houston, the Argentine had not won consecutive tour-level matches since last July when he reached the Kitzbuhel quarter-finals as a qualifier.

“Truthfully I did it match by match,” he said of his challenging road to the title. “And then once I started winning my first match and my second match, I started to gain confidence. As I got closer to the end, I felt like I could take it.”

Querrey became the third straight American to fall in the Houston final, with James Blake losing to Spaniard Marcel Granollers in the 2008 final and Wayne Odesnik to Australian Lleyton Hewitt last year. Mardy Fish was the last American to win the US Men’s Clay Court Championship, claiming the title in 2006 (d. Melzer).

“Every one of his service games in the second set was deuce, break point, ad-in, and I was just babying the ball around too often,” said Querrey. “I need to step up and take chances. You can work that in practice all you want, but it’s not the same. You’ve got to tell yourself I’m going to do it in a match.

“I’m just scared to do it. You can’t be scared to go out there and do that. If I play like this, I’m going to win the occasional [ATP World Tour] 250 and final and win some rounds at a Masters [1000], but I’m not going to get to that next level where I want to be playing like that. I need to step up and take more chances.”

The 22 year old was looking to win his second ATP World Tour title of the season, following his triumph at the ATP World Tour 500 tournament in Memphis this past February (d. Isner). He earned $42,000 and 150 South African Airways 2010 ATP Rankings for his runner-up finish this week.
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Old 12-04-2010, 02:31 PM   #24
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Monte Carlo 2010

Rafael Nadal became the first player in the Open Era to win a tournament title for six straight years on Sunday. The World No. 3 defeated Spanish compatriot Fernando Verdasco 6-0, 6-1 to extend his reign at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters, an ATP World Tour Masters 1000 clay-court tournament. Albert II, Sovereign Prince of Monaco, present the trophy to Nadal after the first all-Spanish final in the Principality since 2002.

Watch Final Highlights

Second seed Nadal snapped an 11-month title drought, stretching back to the 2009 Internazionali BNL d'Italia in Rome, with victory in 86 minutes. He claimed €434,000 in prize money and 1,000 South African Airways 2010 ATP Rankings point in his quest to qualify for the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals at London in November. Verdasco, appearing in his first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 final, picked up €203,000 and 600 points.

The 14 games Nadal lost at the tournament in five matches was the fewest he has dropped en route to a title in his career. Last year at the Barcelona Open BancSabadell he won the title, losing only 18 games (in four matches).

"For me [today] is very emotional," admitted Nadal, who equalled the all-time title record of England's Reggie Doherty (1897-99, 1902-04) at the tournament. "[It] is probably my favourite tournament. I love this tournament. [To] win here another time is a dream for me. The atmosphere here is unbelievable. I feel like [I'm at] home. No one match during seven years [have] I felt the crowd against me. I just can say thank you very much everybody."

Watch Nadal Interview | Watch Sunday's Hot Shot

Sixth seed Verdasco got off to the worst possible start, committing six straight unforced errors. Nadal confirmed the opening-game service break with a glorious crosscourt backhand pass off an angled volley, before taking a 3-0 lead despite Verdasco battling back from 0/40. At the change of ends, Verdasco called for a trainer to treat a neck complaint.

Intent on peppering Verdasco’s backhand, staying clear of his potent forehand, Nadal was relentless in keeping the rallies as short as possible. Two straight forehand winners down the line helped Nadal to a third service break and a 5-0 lead. He duly captured the 36-minute first-set with a hold to 30, when Verdasco fired a forehand wide.

Verdasco received appreciative applause from the 10,080 spectators crammed around Court Central, when he saved three break points to clinch the first game of the second set with an ace. While it may have settled his nerves, Nadal continued to apply the pressure.

In a 14-point third-game, Verdasco managed to save three break point opportunities but was unable to prevent Nadal from striking a running crosscourt forehand pass for a 2-1 lead. Minutes later, the Madrid native was left standing in no-man’s land with his hands on his hips, when a good backhand approach was dispatched by Nadal with a backhand slice winner that glided inches over the net. Nadal went on to take a 4-1 lead with a break to love.

Verdasco failed to capitalise on six break point opportunities in the sixth game, although was allowed a minor celebration in setting up his sixth point when he outwitted Nadal – scrambling behind the baseline in windy conditions – to hit a forehand drop shot winner. He fell to his knees, earning warm applause. But minutes later, Nadal recorded his 32nd consecutive win at the Monte-Carlo Country Club with a forehand winner down the line on his second match point.

Watch Verdasco Interview

"If you see the score, [there] is a big difference," said Verdasco. "But in some games I had some chances to be closer, to make him think a little bit more. But I think that he had unbelievable day and he played really good. I also didn't maybe have a good day, because I was trying to force and made more mistakes than unusual."

The 23-year-old Nadal has now captured 16 ATP World Tour Masters 1000 trophies, which draws him level with ATP World Tour No. 1 Roger Federer and one shy of all-time leader Andre Agassi with 18 titles. The 13-game Monte-Carlo final was fewest in an ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title-match (since 1990).

Nadal has won 54 consecutive matches on clay in the month of April and he’s won 10 titles during that stretch, six in Monte-Carlo and four at the Barcelona Open BancSabadell. His last loss on clay in April came on 8 April, 2005 to Igor Andreev in the Valencia quarter-finals. He ranks seventh overall with 26 trophies in the all-time list of clay-court title leaders, 19 titles behind Guillermo Vilas (45).
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Barcelona 2010

ATP World Tour No. 9 Fernando Verdasco served up the perfect remedy for his loss in the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters final last weekend by defeating Robin Soderling 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 in a high quality title match at the Barcelona Open BancSabadell Sunday.

As champion of the ATP World Tour 500 clay-court tennis tournament, Verdasco earned 500 South African Airways 2010 ATP Ranking points and €286,000, while runner-up Soderling received 300 ranking points and €144,000 in prize money. Both players are bidding to qualify for the second year in a row for the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, to be held at The O2 in London from 21-28 November.

The 26-year-old Verdasco is playing arguably the greatest tennis of his career at the moment, having last week reached the final of an ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournament (l. to Nadal) for the first time. The Madrid native clinched the fifth ATP World Tour title of his career, and his second of the season having triumphed at the SAP Open (d. Roddick) in San Jose in February.

Watch Final Highlights | Watch Verdasco Interview

"I've always dreamed of winning the title here," said Verdasco. "I grew up watching this tournament on television. It's an incredible feeling, it's hard to put it into words. It's my second title in Spain and my first 500 title. In the past two weeks, with a final in Monte-Carlo and the title here in Barcelona, I've won 1000 points. This is maybe the best moment of my career right now."

He becomes the eighth successive Spanish winner at the Real Club de Tenis Barcelona-1899, joining Carlos Moya (2003), Tommy Robredo (2004) and Rafael Nadal (2005-2009).

Looking to improve on a 1-4 record against Soderling, fifth seed Verdasco made a strong start to the match, breaking serve to love to lead 4-3 in the first set. The Spaniard then broke again in the ninth game to seal a one-set lead with commanding forehand play.

Soderling responded well, breaking Verdasco’s serve in the opening game of the second set. Verdasco struck back immediately but the second-seeded Soderling was undeterred and broke again to lead 4-3 before going on to level the match.

Showing no sign of nerves after being pegged back by his Swedish opponent, Verdasco raised his level to break serve in the fourth game of the deciding set as Soderling hooked a forehand wide under pressure. The Spaniard went on to seal victory in two hours and four minutes with strong serving in the final game.

"I didn't start well. I wasn't feeling the ball very well today, which made me a little bit too passive and not aggressive enough," lamented Soderling. "After the first set it was much better but I made one bad game in the third set with a few backhand errors and that cost me the match.

"A final in a tournament like this is still a pretty good week, though. I am still looking to play at the same level that I had towards the end of the clay-court season last year. It hasn't been bad so far but I know I can still do better.

"He [Verdasco] is playing really well. He's playing with a lot of confidence from the last two weeks. He's a great player and he's going to be a tough player to beat in the next couple of weeks."

The 25-year-old Soderling, playing his first clay-court tournament of the year, was also bidding for his second ATP World Tour title of the season, having triumphed at the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament (d. Youzhny) in February. The Tibro native, who reached the Roland Garros final (l. to Federer) last year, was the first Swedish player to reach the Barcelona final since Magnus Larsson did so in 1995 (l. to Muster).

Both players will now travel to Rome to compete in next week’s Internazionali BNL d’Italia, the fourth ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournament of the season.
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Rome 2010

World No. 3 Rafael Nadal won a record-equalling 17th ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title Sunday when he overcame fellow Spaniard David Ferrer 7-5, 6-2 in a rain-hit final at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome.

At the age of just 23, Nadal has drawn level with the retired Andre Agassi, who has held the record of 17 ATP World Tour Masters 1000 titles since winning his last of the coveted shields in Cincinnati in 2004, aged 34. Roger Federer is in second place with 16 ATP World Tour Masters 1000 titles.

"I am 23 and sure 17 is a very important number for me," said Nadal. "There are some tournaments coming up – Madrid is coming up soon – and so I'm going to try to keep winning, but these tournaments are very difficult and some of the best players in the world are there."

Watch Highlights | Watch Sunday's Hot Shot

Nadal won his first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title at the age of 18, when he defeated Guillermo Coria in the 2005 Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters final. Two weeks ago he became the first player in the Open Era to win a tournament title for six straight years when he crushed Fernando Verdasco in Monte-Carlo to claim his 16th ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title. Overall in ATP World Tour Masters 1000 action, he has compiled a 175-35 match record and has a 17-6 mark in finals.

Read Shark Bites: Nadal Ties Agassi Titles Record

As the winner, Nadal received 1000 South African Airways 2010 ATP Ranking points and €434,000, while Ferrer, who finished runner-up in his first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 final, earned 600 ranking points and €203,000 in prize money.

With two ATP World Tour Masters 1000 titles to his name already in 2010, Nadal has made a strong early claim for a place in the elite eight-man field at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, to be held at The O2 in London from 21-28 November.

"The important thing is that I won a very important tournament and finally I am very happy," said Nadal. "Probably I didn't play as well as Monte Carlo. I played well, but not as well as Monte Carlo, but the important thing is winning."

Watch Post Match Interviews: Nadal | Ferrer

In his post-match interview after defeating Fernando Verdasco in the semi-finals Saturday, Ferrer said his game plan against Nadal would be to play “very aggressively” and the high-risk tactic from the Valencia resident made for a very competitive first set in the pair’s 14th meeting.

The score was level at 4-4 in the first set when the light drizzle that had been a constant accompaniment fell harder and play was suspended for the first time. On the resumption, Ferrer held for a 5-4 lead before putting Nadal under pressure with a 30-0 lead on his Davis Cup teammate’s serve. With the confidence of a 10-3 career lead over Ferrer, though, Nadal quickly turned the situation around, holding serve before converting his sixth break point chance on the Ferrer serve for a 6-5 lead.

Aggressive play off Nadal’s second serve earned Ferrer his only break point of the match as the No. 3 seed served for the set, but the left-hander quickly alleviated the threat with a swinging serve out wide and went on to close out the one-set lead.

Looking to build on his lead as the weather began to worsen once more, Nadal took advantage as Ferrer went for too much in his bid to dictate the points and as the right-hander over-hit a backhand, Nadal secured a 2-1 lead.

At that point, play was once again halted due to rain and it was over an hour and a half later before the players were called back to court to finish the match. Keen to not delay any longer, Nadal went for yet more aggression when play resumed and the pressure told on Ferrer in the seventh game. Two double faults from the right-hander proved costly as Nadal clinched a 5-2 lead and, ruthless as ever, Nadal quickly sealed victory on serve after one hour and 44 minutes.

"After the rain, the court was slower and of course Rafa is in form, especially in difficult moments and it's difficult to beat him," said Ferrer. "But I was pleased with my game."

Nadal won the Rome title for the fifth time, having previously triumphed in 2005-2007 and last year with victory over Novak Djokovic in the final. He holds a 27-1 event record. Throughout the week, Nadal held serve 49 of 50 games and saved 15 of 16 break points. The only player to break his serve was Latvian Ernests Gulbis, who pushed Nadal to three sets in the semi-finals.

World No. 17 Ferrer, who leads the ATP World Tour with a 23-4 clay-court mark in 2010, was bidding for his second title of the season. During the Latin American “Golden Swing” in February he finished runner-up to Juan Carlos Ferrero in the Buenos Aires final, before avenging that defeat a week later with victory in Acapulco. He came into Rome on the strength of back-to-back semi-final showings in Monte-Carlo (l. to Nadal) and at the Barcelona Open BancSabadell (l. to Verdasco).

"This is the first time with a Masters 1000 final in Rome and I am happy with that," said Ferrer. "I am happy with my season this year; it is important for me and for my confidence for my next tournaments
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Munich 2010

On his third appearance in the Munich final, Mikhail Youzhny finally laid his hands on the BMW Open by FWU RETAKAFUL trophy with a hard-fought 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 victory over top seed Marin Cilic Sunday.

By virtue of winning the ATP World Tour 250 clay-court tennis tournament, World No. 15 Mikhail Youzhny received 250 South African Airways 2010 ATP Ranking points, €68,450 and also a new BMW 325i convertible from the title sponsor; while runner-up Cilic collected 150 ranking points and €35,980 in prize money.

The Russian, who had finished runner-up in the Munich final in 2007 (l. to Kohlschreiber) and 2009 (l. to Berdych), won his first ATP World Tour clay-court title since capturing his maiden trophy at the MercedesCup in Stuttgart (d. Canas) eight years ago.

Reflecting on his success in Munich, Youzhny said: “It is a good tournament, there is a nice atmosphere. I have a lot of friends here. It is a well-organised tournament for the players, whenever you need something they try to help and that’s important for the players.”

Victory also halted a run of three successive final defeats for Youzhny. Since winning his fifth ATP World Tour title in Moscow (d. Tipsarevic) last October, the Muscovite had finished runner-up in Valencia (l. to Murray) in November and this season in Rotterdam (l. to Soderling) and Dubai (l. to Djokovic).

The 27-year-old Youzhny went into the final with the confidence of a 3-0 career lead over Cilic and made a dream start to the match as he raced to a 3-0 advantage before going on to close out the first set.

The No. 11-ranked Cilic was quick to respond, breaking serve at the first opportunity in the second set and, despite being pegged back by Youzhny, was able to break again in the 10th game to level the match at one set apiece.

In a close deciding set, Youzhny saved one break point in the fourth game before breaking Cilic’s serve to love in the seventh game. The Russian then held his nerve to serve out victory in two hours and 51 minutes.

“It was a really tough match," assessed Youzhny. "There were some tough moments for me. At the beginning of the third set I think two or three of my games were going from deuce to advantage and back to deuce, so it was really tough."

“The momentum swung in different ways in the first, second and third sets," said Cilic. "I think I missed my chances at the beginning of the third set when I had a break point and after that he was trying to get back into it. I think my fatigue made a slight difference in the end when I missed a couple of easy balls on my serve. He served pretty good all through the match and didn’t miss too many easy balls, so it was really tough. But I was fighting very well and I’m pleased with that."

The 21-year-old Cilic was bidding to become the first three-time winner on the ATP World Tour this season, having already defended his titles in Chennai (d. Wawrinka) and Zagreb (d. Berrer). The Croatian, also a semi-finalist at the Australian Open (l. to Murray) in January, has compiled a 25-7 mark on the season.
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Belgrade 2010

Sam Querrey became the first American since 2003 to win a European clay-court title Sunday when he saved one match point to defeat countryman John Isner 3-6, 7-6(4), 6-4 in the final of the Serbia Open 2010, an ATP World Tour 250 tennis tournament in Belgrade.

Querrey’s triumph earned him 250 South African Airways 2010 ATP Ranking points and €67,430, while Isner received 150 ranking points and €35,400. The last American to win a clay-court title on European soil was Andy Roddick at St. Poelten in 2003, while Mardy Fish was the last American to win a clay-court title when he lifted the 2006 Houston trophy.

The 22-year-old Querrey has made great strides on clay in 2010. He reached his first ATP World Tour clay-court final last month in Houston (l. to Chela) and, together with Isner, advanced to the doubles final in Rome (l. to Bryan-Bryan).

“I hope I can continue to play well and my next step is to go deep in an [ATP World Tour] Masters 1000 event, hopefully try to win one of those,” said Querrey, who will play at the Mutua Madrilena Madrid Open next week.

The second-seeded Isner had the chance to win his first ATP World Tour clay-court title when he led 6-3, 5-4 and had advantage on his own serve as he attempted to close out the match. However, Querrey denied his good friend and went on to level the match in the tie-break.

The match was to be decided in an epic ninth game of the third set, which saw Isner surrender a 40/0 lead and fight off four break points before Querrey clinched a 5-4 lead. The younger of the two Americans then confidently served out victory to 15 in one hour and 55 minutes.

“I feel great. It would feel better if I didn’t have to beat my buddy out there and it was someone else. But it’s still exciting,” said Querrey. “[The key today] was just hanging in there. He’s got the biggest serve in the game so it can be frustrating at times. But you just have to not let it bother you when you get aced and just walk to the other side to be ready for the next point. It’s a game of inches, as they say, and on match point he missed that forehand by a couple of inches.”

It is the second time this season that Querrey has defeated his Davis Cup teammate in an ATP World Tour final, having also prevailed when the two clashed in the Memphis title match in February.

The 25-year-old Isner was also contesting his third ATP World Tour final of the season and was bidding for his second title, having captured his maiden trophy in Auckland (d. Clement) in January.

“I’m playing well on the clay,” said Isner. “Today was unfortunate. It’s the second time this year that’s happened; I’ve got to put it behind me.”
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Estorial 2010

Spaniard Albert Montanes once again mastered the testing conditions at the Estadio Nacional, venue of the ATP World Tour 250 clay-court tennis tournament, to defend his Estoril Open title on Sunday.

Under overcast skies, on a slow-paced Central Court, the fourth-seed ended the fairytale run of Portuguese No. 2 Frederico Gil with a 6-2, 6-7(4), 7-5 victory in two hour and 34 minutes. Montanes recovered from a 0-3 deficit in the deciding set to record his 10th straight win at the tournament.

The 29-year-old Montanes is the first man to win back-to-back Estoril titles in 14 years, when former World No. 1 Thomas Muster lifted the 1996 trophy.

"It feels great to defend the title, my fourth career title," said Montanes. "This is a special place for me and I’m happy to have won it again.

"I am definitely playing the best tennis of my career and if I keep playing like that I think I can break into the Top 20."

The World No. 34 has now won four ATP World Tour titles in eight clay-court finals and takes home €72,150 in prize money and earns 250 South African Airways 2010 ATP Ranking points.

Montanes got his first service break in the fifth game of the first set when Gil, serving at 15/40, hit a backhand under pressure into the net. He went on to hit a clever low forehand, which Gil netted, in the seventh game for a 5-2 lead.

Minutes later, Montanes won his 16th of 23 service points with a crosscourt forehand winner to take the 28-minute opening set. He hit 10 aces and committed 14 unforced errors overall.

Gil, who lives with his family in nearby Sintra, saved two break points in a tense opening game of the second set, but was broken to 15 in the third game when Montanes hit an unanswered backhand crosscourt pass.

Montanes maintained a two-game cushion until the 10th game, when he squandered two match point opportunities by hitting a forehand long and a backhand crosscourt out.

"I had the match under control for the most part at 6-2, 5-3 and two match points," said Montanes. "Then the crowd got on his back and sparked him into life. He started playing a lot better."

Much to the delight of 5,000 spectators, Gil levelled the scoreline at 5-5 but was immediately broken. The World No. 134 once again responded by breaking Montanes’ serve to love, taking the second set to a tie-break with a smash winner.

Gil, going for broke on his strokes so not to get tight, took a 4-1 lead in the tie-break courtesy of a smash winner. Serving at 6-3, he put a backhand volley wide, but clinched the 66-minute set on his third point when Montanes hit a forehand approach into the net. Both players had hit 31 winners.

Buoyed by the crowds support, Gil put Montanes under pressure in the first set of the deciding set. Gil was unable to convert two break point opportunities through forehand errors, but at the third time of asking he hit a forehand winner down the line off a slow-paced mid-court ball.

He confirmed the break with a hold to 30 and made it 3-0 with a terrific reaction volley off a powerful Montanes backhand. Undaunted in the face of two break points in the fourth game, Gil fired backhand winners but over-hit a backhand long of the baseline on Montanes third break point opportunity.

“In the third set I was double-break down and I don’t know how I turned the match around," admitted Montanes. "I just kept fighting."

The tide began to turn in Montanes’ favour and by the eighth game the Barcelona resident converted the first of three break point opportunities, on the Gil serve at 0/40, when the Portuguese hit a backhand crosscourt into the net.

The set looked destined for a tie-break, but Montanes’ big-match experience came to the fore when he led 6-5. A backhand winner down the line and a deft backhand slice crosscourt to the net-rushing Gil, put the Portuguese under pressure. Gil saved his third match point at 15/40 with a forehand volley winner, but could not deny Montanes again.

Gil had been attempting to become the third first-time ATP World Tour titlist this year, following in the footsteps of American John Isner at the Heineken Open in Auckland and Ernests Gulbis of Latvia at the Delray Beach International Tennis Championships.

"This was my best result so far,” said Gil. “I’m really happy to have reached the final at home in Estoril. It was a great match, I was leading 3-0 in the third set but I couldn’t maintain the level to the end. He is a very experienced player and he got the title.

"I was trying to play my best tennis and to maintain the level I wanted [in the third set]. But I want to compliment Montanes, who stayed there all the time and forced me to play my best tennis. He never stopped running and that is why he is ranked in the 30s and I’m at No. 134.

The 25 year old will rise approximately 30 places to No. 104 in the South African Airways 2010 ATP Rankings on Monday. He attained a career-high World No. 66 in May last year.

"For me, I am very happy to be Portugal’s first [ATP World Tour] finalist. I haven’t realised yet what I have done, because it is so soon after the match. I’d like to thank my family, my coaches and everyone who supported me. I’ll continue to work hard and do my best in future."

Gil got the biggest cheque of his career by taking home €37,900 and he earned 150 South African Airways 2010 ATP Ranking points. He dropped to a 7-4 mark on clay courts this year and 7-8 overall.

Montanes pulled off the biggest win of his 11-year professional career on Saturday, when he rallied from a 2-5 deficit in the second set tie-break to beat World No. 1 Roger Federer of Switzerland 6-2, 7-6(5). He has a 17-11 season record.
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Default Re: ATP Finals

Madrid 2010


At the age of 23 years and 11 months, Rafael Nadal won a record-breaking 18th ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title as he defeated rival Roger Federer 6-4, 7-6(5), in a No. 1 vs. No. 2 final Sunday at the Mutua Madrilena Madrid Open.

Watched by Queen Sofia of Spain, Nadal also became the first player to win all three ATP World Tour Masters 1000 clay court tournaments in the same year, having triumphed at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters (d. Verdasco) and the Internazionali BNL d’Italia (d. Ferrer) last month.

"Well to be the first player to [win all three ATP World Tour Masters 1000 clay-court tournaments] is unbelievable," said Nadal. "I would never have dreamed that I would be able to do so. I’m very happy to have won here and it is especially important to have won in Madrid.

"Beating Roger is always a special occasion. It’s always a very difficult match. And of course winning at home is very special against anyone. So beating him at home is amazing; it’s a dream for me. For me it’s a dream to have won the three [tournaments] before Roland Garros. I want to enjoy that now and we’ll see what happens in two weeks."

As champion, the second-seeded Nadal received 1000 South African Airways 2010 ATP Ranking points and was already assured of returning to the No. 2 ranking by reaching the final in Madrid. The Top 8 players at the end of the season will qualify for the prestigious Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, to be held at The O2 in London from 21-28 November.

Victory for Nadal avenged the defeat he suffered to Federer in the Madrid final last year, the first year the event was played on clay at the Caja Magica in the Spanish capital. The Spaniard improved to a 28-2 mark in tour-level clay-court finals, with his two defeats both coming to Federer; he also lost to the Swiss in the 2007 Hamburg title match.

With 28 tour-level clay-court titles, Nadal moved into a tie for fifth place with Ivan Lendl and Ilie Nastase in the Open Era clay-court title leaders list. Guillermo Vilas holds the record with 45 titles.

In their first clash for a year, Nadal and Federer, who had both come through three-set tussles in the semi-finals, struggled to find their form in the opening exchanges of their 21st meeting. Breaks were exchanged in the third and fourth games before Nadal broke decisively in the seventh game as Federer paid the price for a game littered with unforced errors. The second-seeded Nadal then saved four break points as he served out the set, finishing with a hooked forehand passing shot past the stranded Federer.

With a one-set advantage, Nadal looked to have taken a firm grip on the match as he broke Federer in the opening game of the second set, wearing the Swiss down with his relentless attack that forced errors from the World No. 1’s racquet.

Nadal was unable to shut out Federer out. The determined Swiss immediately levelled and when Nadal again broke to lead 3-2, Federer once again pegged him back with a delightful mix of rifling backhands and forehand drop shots.

In the subsequent tie-break, Federer twice squandered a mini-break lead and found himself two match points down as his backhand broke down under relentless pressure from Nadal. The Swiss was able to save the first with a courageous deep forehand into the corner, but could not deny Nadal on the second as he miss-fired to hand the Mallorcan victory after two hours and 10 minutes.

"Neither of us played a perfect match, we both made mistakes," reflected Nadal. "At times we did play well but I think we know each other so much that we are only focusing on how to make each other play worse. I go for his backhand and that makes the match more strategic and it's been quite an exciting match. It was a very exciting match, a very level match, as is usually the case, and playing against Roger is a very special experience and quite an honour.”

Nadal lifted the trophy in Madrid for the second time, having previously triumphed in a fifth-set tie-break against Ivan Ljubicic on indoor hard court in 2005. Federer is also a two-time winner in Madrid, lifting the trophy in 2006 (d. Gonzalez) and 2009.

The 28-year-old Federer was looking to draw level with Nadal and Andre Agassi by winning a 17th ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title. He was also bidding to capture his first title since clinching his 16th Grand Slam crown at the Australian Open (d. Murray) at the start of the year.

The right-hander slipped to a 19-6 record on the season and to a 62-25 mark in tour-level finals. He will hope to rejoin the winners’ circle by defending his title at Roland Garros, which begins in one week’s time in Paris.

"Considering where I was last week (when he lost to Albert Montanes in the Estoril semi-finals) this has been a major improvement for me," said Federer. "The fact is I hardly ever play a lefty on clay and nobody as tough as Rafa. So it’s obviously not easy to make that transition and I thought I did it very well today.

"He came in with tons of confidence having done so well on clay this season, I knew it was going to be tough; but I really believed in my chance. I was maybe a couple points away here and there, but just got broken one too many times today. But I’m pretty happy with the way I played. I’ve played great this week so I definitely come out of this tournament with tons of confidence."
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