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Old 04-18-2012, 09:09 AM   #91
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Indian wells 2011

Novak Djokovic just cannot stop winning. The Serb extended his unbeaten run to 20 matches as he came from a set down to defeat World No. 1 Rafael Nadal 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 in a gripping finale at the BNP Paribas Open on Sunday

The 23-year-old Djokovic has not lost a match since falling to Roger Federer in the semi-finals of the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals last November, leading his country to Davis Cup glory in December before beginning the 2011 season with victories at the Australian Open (d. Murray) and the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships (d. Federer).

“I don't think anybody is unbeatable. I do have the best period of my life on the tennis court, but nobody is invincible,” he said. “Still you are just trying to play your best in each match you're playing.”

Just three months into the 2011 ATP World Tour season, Djokovic has laid down a strong claim for one of the coveted eight berths at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, to be held at The O2 in London from 20-27 November. He received a further 1000 South African Airways 2011 ATP Ranking points with victory in Indian Wells.

Victory marked Djokovic’s 21st tour-level title and his sixth ATP World Tour Masters 1000 crown. It is the second time he has tasted glory at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, having previously lifted the trophy in 2008 with victory over Mardy Fish. He also reached the final in 2007, when he came up short against Nadal.

A day earlier, in a semi-final clash that also had the No. 2 South African Airways 2011 ATP Ranking on the line, Djokovic had defeated Federer, making him the third player to beat Nadal and Federer in the same tournament on two occasions, joining Nikolay Davydenko and David Nalbandian. He first defeated the duo in back-to-back matches at the 2007 ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event in Montreal.

“I am playing with a lot of confidence,” said Djokovic. “I'm feeling the ball well on the court. I'm very dedicated. I have a big will to win each match I'm playing on, so it will not stop here, definitely. I want to keep on going and keep on playing good tennis. Hopefully I can recover and get ready for Miami.”

In a first set filled with punishing baseline rallies and high-quality exchanges, breaks were swapped in the fifth and sixth games before Nadal broke decisively to lead 4-3 as he broke down Djokovic’s backhand to draw the error. He then closed out the one-set lead with a love service game.

Nadal had looked strong on serve, reeling off 16 straight points from 4-3 in the first set to level at 2-2 in the second set. However, inexplicably, he lost all consistency on his first serve and paid the price as Djokovic broke to lead 4-2.

Djokovic too suffered a dip in form from his high standards of the first set, though, and immediately relinquished the advantage. But he regained his lead in the eighth game before closing out the set in a shaky service game, which saw him squander five set points and save a break point before converting his sixth opportunity, leaving the Spaniard to rue a first serve percentage of just 25 per cent.

“It was just the question of momentum,” said Djokovic. “ I managed to hold that very important game at 5-3 and then I was on a roll. I felt that this is the time when I had to use my opportunity and step in and be more aggressive and take it to him, and that's what I did. Again, it was just a couple of points in the end of the second set that kind of turned the match around.”

Nadal failed to regain his rhythm on serve in the third set and quickly fell a double-break behind as Djokovic, brimming with confidence, put his opponent to the sword with ruthless efficiency. He gave Nadal no chance to recover and wrapped up victory with a love service game in two hours and 25 minutes.

It was the first time in six attempts that Djokovic had beaten Nadal in a tour-level final, having fallen to the Spaniard most recently in the US Open championship match.

“The serve was the difference today in my opinion,” said Nadal. “It's true I played with less intensity after the first set, but I think everything is because of the serve. So just congratulate him. I think he did better than possible to start one season. He's playing well. He's in the right place at the right moment, so all the best for him for the rest of the season.”

The 24-year-old Nadal was chasing a 19th ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title and a third title in Indian Wells, having previously triumphed in 2007 and 2009 (d. Murray). His progress at the start of the 2011 season has been impeded by illness in Doha followed by an enforced five-week injury lay-off after losing in the Australian Open quarter-finals (l. to Ferrer).
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Old 04-18-2012, 09:10 AM   #92
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MIAMI 2011

Players on the ATP World Tour will have to wait until the clay court season to have another opportunity to end Novak Djokovic’s undefeated reign in 2011.

In one of the most electrifying men’s singles finals in Sony Ericsson Open history, the Serbian defeated World No. 1 Rafael Nadal for the second consecutive ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event after winning at Indian Wells two weeks ago, upending the Spaniard 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(4) to win his second Sony Ericsson Open Sunday afternoon. “As I said on the court, it was one of the closest and best finals that I have played ever,” a pleased Djokovic told reporters after his win.

“I think it was very high level of tennis today. I think everybody enjoyed, even us playing. It was very close, and up to the last stroke we really didn't know which way it's going to go.”

The match took its toll on both player’s – even the World No. 1 came off the court fatigued, a rare occasion for one of the fittest players in the history of the game. “I was very tired at the end. Think I played a little bit better the beginning of last week's final,” evaluated the Spaniard.

“[But] I was there fighting until the last point… nothing left in my body right now, so that's the sport. I love these kinds of matches.”

In front of a record final's crowd of 14,625 fans, Djokovic improved to 24-0 on the season, and increases his overall winning streak to 26 wins in a row, dating back to last December’s Davis Cup Final. His title today gives the two-time Australian Open champion his seventh ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title, five of which have come on outdoor hard courts, and 22nd title overall.

Djokovic has turned up the heat on Nadal in the battle for the World No. 1 South African Airways ATP Ranking. The nine-time major champion has more than 7,000 points to defend between now and Wimbledon. “I think it's a bit early to talk about getting that top spot in the rankings. It's still quite a big difference. Rafa is definitely the best player in the world now,” believes the current No. 2 Djokovic.

“If I want to have that shot, the No. 1 ranking, I need to play consistently well throughout the whole year. We all know that clay court is his favorite surface, and obviously somewhere where he plays his best.”

Nadal sees the situation differently. “I think he's going to be No. 1,” said the Majorcan.

“I don't feel [like] he's breathing on my neck… but he won two tournaments in a row right now, very big tournaments, [as well as] one Grand Slam. Normal thing is he will be No. 1 in the next month, month and a half, two months. I don't know. Depends on my results on clay.”

Though the Spaniard was disappointed not to win at Crandon Park in his third final, he was positive about the results he’s achieved in the year’s first two ATP World Tour Masters 1000 events. “I had a fantastic American hard court season, [reaching] two finals, and [now I’m] ready for clay,” Nadal said. “I had a very good season, American season, probably the best one of my life here.”

His next tournament will be the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event in Monte Carlo, a place where he’s won a record six consecutive tournaments, the perfect location to begin his clay court season. “First tournament of clay is always important… I won six in a row. I going to try my best for the seventh but know how difficult every tournament is,” said Nadal. “Hopefully I’m going to be playing well at this tournament.”

Djokovic has never defeated Nadal on clay, but has tested the five-time French Open champion on the surface, and comes in as a different player than in years past. “I think I have the game to challenge him on that surface, and I showed that in 2009. I think we had some great matches in Monte Carlo, final; in Madrid, semifinal, so it is possible,” Djokovic said.

“If I do have an opportunity to play him on clay, obviously I have to be aggressive. Clay is the slowest surface that we have, and it's the surface that suits him best. Over the years, he's been the king of that surface and the guy to beat. He always comes up with his best game at the clay court tournaments.”

The Serbian becomes the first player since Roger Federer in 2006 to win both Indian Wells and Miami in the same year, a feat that’s now been achieved eight times on the men’s side. This match-up paralleled 1995 in many ways; it was the first time in 16 years that Indian Wells and Miami featured the same two finalists, as well as the top two ranked players (Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras). It was also the first time since the Agassi-Sampras clash in 1995 that the men’s final at Crandon Park was decided by a final set tie-break.

This year's Sony Ericsson Open attracted 316,267 fans, setting a new tournament record.
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Old 04-18-2012, 09:11 AM   #93
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Casablancna 2011

Spain’s Pablo Andujar captured his first ATP World Tour title on Sunday at the Grand Prix Hassan II with a 6-1, 6-2 victory over fifth-seeded Italian Potito Starace.

One day after knocking out top seed Albert Montanes, the 69th-ranked Andujar capitalised on four of eight break points and saved the two faced on serve to defeat Starace for the first time in three tour-level meetings.

“I was very confident before the match,” said Andujar. “I thought about winning and yesterday’s win gave me a lot of confidence. I played in a way that made him tired, being very aggressive and making him run a lot.”

Starace, who was relegated runner-up status for the fourth time in four ATP World Tour finals, said: “He played a great match. He was too aggressive and didn’t give me one chance, so congratulations to him. He was playing a very high level.”

Andujar was contesting his second ATP World Tour final, last year reaching this stage at the clay court tournament in Bucharest (l. to Chela), and takes home € 72,600 and 250 South African Airways 2011 ATP Ranking pointHs with his victory. “It wasn’t easy. I didn’t expect this title and it comes as a surprise for me,” he admitted.

The 25 year old has now won seven of his past eight matches to improve his season record to 10-7. Andujar recently posted his first Top 10 victory, defeating World No. 9 Fernando Verdasco in the second round of the Sony Ericson Open in Miami.

“Casablanca was a great preparation for me,” said Andujar. “The conditions are close to the ones in Europe and it’s only a two-hour flight from Valencia. This is a very good tournament to start the clay season.”

The 29-year-old Starace, who dropped to an 11-9 season record, also looked ahead to European spring season. “It was the first tournament on clay, and now I have four or five tournaments before Paris,” he said. “I hope I can make some good results because it’s very important for the confidence.”
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Old 04-18-2012, 09:11 AM   #94
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Houston 2011

In his debut appearance in an ATP World Tour final, American wild card Ryan Sweeting prevailed against Japanese No. 6 seed Kei Nishikori 6-4, 7-6(3) Sunday in Houston to clinch the title at the US Men's Clay Court Championship.

In the youngest tour-level final this season, the 23-year-old Sweeting broke the 21-year-old Nishikori late in the first set and faced down three set points in the 10th game of the second set before clinching the victory on his first of three match points in the tie-break.

“That game was very crucial,” Sweeting said of holding at 5-all. “It was definitely an important hold for me. I think it was a 20-minute long game. It definitely wore me out a little bit. I knew that I wanted to try and win the second set, obviously, to win the match, but it was a good hold and I felt that it gave me a little bit of momentum going into the rest of the set. It sort of hit him a little harder that he didn’t get the break – he had a lot of break points – but I just fought hard today.”

Sweeting became the first U.S. champion at this ATP World Tour 250 tournament since Mardy Fish in 2006 after American players finished runners-up each of the past three years. He also became the fifth first-time winner on the ATP World Tour this season, following Pablo Andujar’s victory at the Grand Prix Hassan II earlier Sunday.

“I’m most happy about the way I performed under pressure,” he said. “It was my first final and I felt I stayed calm, I stayed focused. I didn’t let the moment get to me and nerves get to me, which has happened to me in the past before, so I felt that I competed well at an important time in my career.”

World No. 93 Sweeting, who is projected to climb to No. 71 after earning 250 South African Airways 2011 ATP Rankings points this week, improved to a 10-6 season record. He had reached one tour-level quarter-final prior to this week, resulting in a loss to Nishikori in Delray Beach this past February.

En route to the final, he had upset 2010 finalist and No. 2 seed Sam Querrey in the second round and past champion Ivo Karlovic in the semi-finals.

Nishikori had claimed the Delray Beach title in 2008 in his only other appearance in ATP World Tour final, and said about his performance Sunday: “I was struggling today, missing a lot with easy shots and he was more aggressive than me, so that’s why I was struggling, I guess. It was a final and I really wanted to win today, but I think that made me a little tight.”

He is projected to break into the Top 50 of the South African Airways 2011 ATP Rankings with his showing this week, putting his goal of surpassing Shuzo Matsuako’s career-high mark of No. 46 within reach.

“It’s one of my goals, but if I play good it’s going to come for sure sometime,” he said. “Hopefully I can get to 45 as soon as possible. It’ll be good for me, but I think it’s going to come sometime if I can play like this in every tournament.”
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Old 04-18-2012, 09:24 AM   #95
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MONTE CARLO 2011

World No. 1 Rafael Nadal reigned supreme at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters for the seventh year in a row on Sunday as he defeated fourth seed David Ferrer 6-4, 7-5 in an all-Spanish final at the Monte-Carlo Country Club.

Nadal was presented with the trophy by HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco, his fiancée Charlene Wittstock, and President of the tournament committee Elizabeth-Ann de Massy.

"It's really emotional and unbelievable for me," said Nadal. "[To] start the clay season like this is fantastic, but [it] is fantastic winning Monte Carlo another time. Probably is a tournament that in the category of [ATP World Tour Masters] 1000 tournaments is the one that I feel more emotional when I am playing for the history of the tournament because here in 2003 everything started.

"[To] win seven times in a row any where is almost impossible I think. But to win Monte Carlo, all the best players in the world are here, you always have tough matches, is impossible to imagine for me. So I am very lucky, I think."

Since making his debut with a third-round exit to Guillermo Coria in 2003, Nadal has gone on to win a staggering 37 consecutive matches in Monte-Carlo and owns a 39-1 record at the first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 clay-court tennis tournament of the season.

"Rafa is incredible on clay. I mean, he's everywhere at the same time. He's the best player on clay in history," declared beaten finalist Ferrer.

Victory saw the Nadal break two of his existing records. He became the first player in ATP World Tour history to win a title in seven consecutive years, having been the first player to do so six times last year in Monte-Carlo. He also won his 19th ATP World Tour Masters 1000 crown, having previously held the record with 18 of the coveted titles. Roger Federer and Andre Agassi both have 17 Masters 1000 titles.

Along with Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic, the 24-year-old Nadal is an early front runner to qualify for the year-end Barclays ATP World Tour Finals and added a further 1000 South African Airways 2011 ATP Ranking points to his total with victory in Monte-Carlo. Ferrer, who also qualified for the prestigious eight-man field last year, earned 600 points.

Nadal has now amassed 44 tour-level titles and notched his 30th tour-level victory on clay, tying him in third place with Bjorn Borg and Manuel Orantes in the Open Era clay-court title leaders list. Guillermo Vilas is in first place with 45 clay-court titles, followed by Thomas Muster, who won 40.

In the seventh all-Spanish final at an ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event (since 1990), service breaks were exchanged in the third and fourth games before Nadal broke decisively in the fifth game to lead 3-2. The top seed struggled to shake Ferrer off, and was forced to save three break point chances in the following game, but held on to clinch the opening set.

Nadal looked to have taken control of the match as he broke in the third game of the second set and quickly established a 4-2 lead. However, a loose game from the Spaniard, including a double fault and costly backhand error, allowed the diligent Ferrer to level at 4-4. Appearing in just his second ATP World Tour Masters 1000 final, though, Ferrer tightened up in the 11th game and Nadal capitalised on a spate of unforced errors from his Davis Cup teammate to break through before serving out victory in two hours and 16 minutes.

"I hope this victory will help me a lot for the confidence," said Nadal. "Maybe I am a little bit more nervous than usual. I'm playing a little bit more defensive than what I have to do. So hopefully this victory is a lot of confidence for me after playing two finals in a row. So the positive results are coming. Hopefully I'm going to play much more aggressive."

The 29-year-old Ferrer had reached his first Monte-Carlo final without the loss of a set and went into the match unbeaten on clay in 2011, having won his 11th ATP World Tour title in Acapulco (d. Almagro) in February. The Valencia resident was also victorious on hard court in Auckland at the start of the season and defeated Nadal to reach the Australian Open semi-finals (l. to Murray) for the first time.

"Generally speaking I'm very happy," said Ferrer. "I'm happy with my game also. I was a bit sad about certain moments. But generally speaking I'm happy. I'm satisfied with my game. Reaching the finals here is very difficult to achieve and I'm very happy."

Ferrer had also been beaten by Nadal in his first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 final at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia Rome last year, and dropped to an 11-11 record in tour-level finals.
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Old 04-18-2012, 09:25 AM   #96
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BARCELONA 2011

World No. 1 Rafael Nadal regained the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell title on Sunday as he defeated fellow Spaniard David Ferrer, 6-2, 6-4, for the second time in two weeks.

Having won the ATP World Tour 500 clay-court tennis tournament five successive times from 2005-2009, Nadal became the first player in the Open Era to win two tournaments at least six times. Last weekend he defeated Ferrer in straight sets to win the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters crown for the seventh year in a row.

"I feel at home here," said Nadal. "It's a very special tournament. It always has been as I grew up watching this tournament. It's a historical tournament with a great tradition and great champions. It's more than a dream to win here six times."

As champion, Nadal received 500 South African Airways 2011 ATP Ranking points and € 290,000 in prize money, while Ferrer collected 300 ranking points and € 145,750.

In winning his 31st clay-court tour-level title – the third-highest number in the Open Era - the 24-year-old Nadal improved to a 34-match winning streak on the surface. He has not lost a match on clay since falling to Robin Soderling in the 2009 Roland Garros fourth round, and has only surrendered three sets in that period.

In the ninth all-Spanish final in the Open Era at the Real Club de Tenis Barcelona 1899, Nadal saved a break point in his opening service game before his forehand found its mark and Ferrer had no answer as he raced to a 4-1 lead. The fourth-seeded Ferrer showed his tenacity as he recouped one of the breaks in the sixth game, but the Valencia native had struggled on second serve throughout the set, winning just one of eight points in total, and paid the price as he was broken for the third time and Nadal went on to seal the one-set lead.

Nadal came up against a sterner test in the second set. Ferrer, who defeated the left-hander in the quarter-finals of the Australian Open in January, showed great steel to recover from an early 0-2 deficit and reeled off four straight games to lead 4-2. It proved to be the Spaniard’s last stand, though, as Nadal won the final four games to prevail in one hour and 49 minutes.

"I played a great first set," reflected Nadal. "I was changing the directions of my shots very well. It's been a very positive week and I think my level has been higher this week than in Monte-Carlo last week. My serve worked much better this week, especially, and also my forehand."

In his assessment, Ferrer said, "He served very well in the first set. In the second set we broke each other a lot but I think he played better than me. I had a chance at 4-2 up, but I didn't serve well in the important moments."

A day earlier in the semi-finals, Nadal had recorded his 500th tour-level win with a straight-sets victory over Ivan Dodig. Since falling to Alex Corretja in the second round on his 2003 debut in Barcelona, the Mallorcan has won 29 successive matches at the tournament.

World No. 6 David Ferrer was bidding for his third ATP World Tour title of the season after victories on hard court at Auckland (d. Nalbandian) and Acapulco (d. Almagro). He also lost out to Nadal in the Barcelona final in 2008-2009.

"It's always sad to lose, but it's been a very good week," said Ferrer. "This tournament is very special to me. If someone told me I would reach the final in Monte-Carlo and Barcelona, I would sign for sure.

"It's difficult to beat Rafa, especially on clay. It's been a great season so far, I am very happy, and I hope to continue like this."
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Old 04-18-2012, 09:26 AM   #97
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Munich 2011

Former World No. 3 Nikolay Davydenko captured his 21st ATP World Tour title on Sunday as he defeated German No. 1 Florian Mayer 6-3, 3-6, 6-1 in the final of the BMW Open by FWU Takaful in Munich.

As champion of the ATP World Tour 250 clay-court tennis tournament, Davydenko earned 250 South African Airways 2011 ATP Ranking points and €68,850 in prize money. In addition, he received a brand new BMW 1 Series Convertible and two business class tickets to South Africa (courtesy of South African Airways).

It is the second time Davydenko has triumphed in Munich, having lifted his third ATP World Tour trophy in the Bavarian capital in 2004 with victory over Martin Verkerk. He has won at least one ATP World Tour title for nine straight years.

"In finals I just feel stronger, more relaxed, my confidence is very high and I just go out there fighting," said Davydenko in assessing his 21-6 finals record. "It was a very important result here (to return to the Top 30) and I’m just so happy."

As well as returning Davydenko to the Top 30 in the South African Airways 2011 ATP Rankings, the right-hander’s victory keeps the BMW Open trophy in Russian hands, with Mikhail Youzhny having won the title last season. Beyreuth native Mayer was bidding to become the fifth German winner in Munich since 1974.

In the second ATP World Tour final Davydenko and Mayer have contested, the Russian gained the upperhand as he saved the five break points he faced in the first set, while converting one of his four opportunities to take a one-set lead.

The fifth-seeded Mayer struck back in the second set with one break of serve to level the match, but two service breaks by Davydenko in the deciding set saw the Russian break away and seal victory in one hour and 49 minutes. Davydenko had also beaten Mayer in the 2006 Sopot final.

"At the beginning I played solid, but then maybe I lost concentration," admitted Davydenko. "I thought I was winning easily and then he started to play better. For sure it was not so easy to come back in the second set. Then I started concentrating better at the beginning of the third set, fighting for every point and 6-1 for me was a very good result."

The 29-year-old Davydenko has dropped to No. 40 in the South African Airways 2011 ATP Rankings after a slump in form following his return from a fractured left wrist early in the 2010 season. The right-hander opened the season strongly, defeating Rafael Nadal to reach the final in Doha (l. to Federer), but since then had won back-to-back tour-level matches only once. He improved to a 13-9 match record on the season.

World No. 35 Mayer was looking to win his first ATP World Tour title and dropped to a 0-4 mark in finals. He also lost out in the 2005-2006 Sopot finals and in the Stockholm title match in 2010. He had advanced to his first ATP World Tour final on home soil for the loss of just one set.

"It was a fantastic week," said Mayer. "Of course I'm a little disappointed losing the final, but I see the positives this week. I had never won a match here in Munich coming in to this year's tournament. I had very difficult opponents in my four finals playing [Roger] Federer, [Gael] Monfils and Davydenko twice. It could certainly have been easier opponents but it's nothing I can change.

"It's a great feeling to break into the Top 30 for the first time in my career, now I want to go even higher."
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Old 04-18-2012, 09:26 AM   #98
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Serbia Open 2011

ATP World Tour No. 2 Novak Djokovic improved to a 27-0 start on the season as he defeated Feliciano Lopez 7-6(4), 6-2 Sunday to reclaim his hometown title at the Serbia Open 2011 in Belgrade.

Djokovic’s 27-0 mark in 2011 is the best start to a season since Ivan Lendl won 29 straight matches in 1986. The Serbian has in fact won his past 29 matches, with his last defeat coming against Roger Federer in the semi-finals of the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals in November. He closed the 2010 season by leading Serbia to victory in the Davis Cup final against France.

The 23-year-old Djokovic claimed his fifth tour-level title of the season and the 23rd of his career. In the first four months of the season he won the Australian Open (d. Murray), Dubai (d. Federer) and the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 titles in Indian Wells and Miami, defeating Rafael Nadal both times.

Djokovic is already the frontrunner to qualify for the year-end Barclays ATP World Tour Finals and, as winner of the ATP World Tour 250 clay-court tennis tournament in Belgrade, he received another 250 South African Airways 2011 ATP Ranking points. He also won his hometown title in its inaugural edition in 2009, with victory over Lukasz Kubot.

While Djokovic was delighted with his results thus far in 2011, the Serbian declared there is still much he would like to achieve this season, namely usurping Nadal at the top of the South African Airways 2011 ATP Rankings.

"I’m definitely happy to win another title and to move on. Now in front of me there is a period of two months, which are really important," said Djokovic. "I need to stay healthy and I need to stay fit in order to play well. The [winning] streak is something I don’t really think about. I am flattered that people compare me to the greats, like Lendl, [John] McEnroe, Federer, Nadal - guys who have made history on the tennis court. But I have some other goals to achieve this year.

"Obviously the No. 1 ranking is still far away, even though I’ve been winning every match I’ve played this year and won five titles in a row. But I know I need to do more and if I ever get to that No. 1 in the world it would be a dream come true for me because it’s been the ambition of my tennis career. But there is Nadal who is playing really well, Federer who wants to come back definitely, many players to beat in order to get there."

The top-seeded Djokovic was given one of his sternest tests of the week in the opening set against Lopez, saving six break points before edging the Spanish left-hander in a tie-break. He then pulled away in the second set, breaking serve twice to seal victory in just under two hours.

"Today I was playing for the title in front of so many people. It’s always a huge motivation for me, but also a huge responsibility with the kind of expectations that I feel," explained Djokovic. "I was aware of that and that’s why I was maybe a little bit more nervous. I was focussed and in the important moments today I played well, I was patient and the luck was on my side a little bit as well."

World No. 37 Lopez hit form on his debut in Belgrade this week, upsetting two seeded players in No. 8 Juan Monaco and No. 4 Albert Montanes as well as former World No. 5 Fernando Gonzalez to reach his seventh ATP World Tour final. He dropped to a 2-5 mark.

The 29-year-old Madrid native came into Belgrade on the back of a quarter-final showing in Barcelona (l. to Dodig), but in his preceding nine tour-level tournaments he had won back-to-back matches just once.

"I feel good. I’m in good shape. I’ve played so many matches in the past two weeks, so it’s good for my confidence," said Lopez. "I have three more tournaments on clay, so I hope to keep going in this level that I played at here."
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Old 04-18-2012, 09:27 AM   #99
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Estoril 2011

Juan Martin del Potro, playing at his first clay-court tournament for 23 months, won his third ATP World Tour title on red dirt and his ninth trophy overall on Sunday at the Estoril Open.

The eighth-seeded Argentine defeated second seed Fernando Verdasco of Spain 6-2, 6-2 in the 76-minute final, played under cloudy skies at the Estadio Nacional.

"It was my best match of the week," admitted del Potro. "Finals are difficult to play, you never know if you will play your best tennis or not. Today, I won and I played really nice tennis. Everything was perfect.

"To beat Fernando you have to play good tennis. I served really well and was very confident on my forehand and backhand too. I took all my opportunities, especially on my break points. Hopefully I will be at the same level in my next match."

Del Potro has now won 23 of his past 26 matches, rising from No. 484 in the South African Airways 2011 ATP Rankings on 11 February to his current position of World No. 46. "I am playing better day-by-day, tournament-by-tournament," he added. "That is why I am working. I want to be ready for the second part of the year."

The Estoril Open titlist earned a first prize of €72,600 and 250 South African Airways 2011 ATP Ranking points, while Verdasco picked up a cheque for €38,200 and 150 points.

Del Potro is the fifth Argentine in the past nine years to win the title at the ATP World Tour 250 tournament. He joins David Nalbandian (2002, 2006), Juan Ignacio Chela (2004) and Gaston Gaudio (2005).

At the start of the pair's third meeting, there were three straight breaks of serve before Del Potro establish control of the first set with a 3-1 lead. Two wayward backhands gave del Potro a second service break, with Verdasco dropping his serve to 15.

Del Potro converted his second of three set point opportunities with an out ace wide in the deuce court to wrap up the opener in 33 minutes. He dropped just six points on serve.

Verdasco continued to struggle on serve in the second set. The World No. 15 lost his serve to 15 in the first game and del Potro went onto confirm the break with pinpoint accurate serves and forehand winners.

Serving at 2-4, 40/15, Verdasco appeared to be in control of his service game, but four straight groundstroke errors gifted former World No. 4 del Potro and 5-2 lead.

Thirteen minutes later, having saved one break point and on his third match point opportunity, del Potro completed a 14-point service game with a forehand winner. It was his 25th win of the year.

Del Potro, who dropped one set against Portuguese qualifier Pedro Sousa in the first round, captured his second ATP World Tour title of the year. In February he won at Delray Beach (d. Tipsarevic). He has now 9-3 lifetime in tour-level finals.

Verdasco, 27, won 12 of 24 points on serve and did not create a break point opportunity. The Madrid native, who beat del Potro in the San Jose semi-finals in February, dropped to a 12-9 record on the season.

"He played better and that is why he beat me by the scoreline today," said Verdasco. "He played great. I didn't have many chances to put him in trouble. It was hard, he was hitting the ball hard and deep. It was difficult to be offensive. I didn't play my best game.

"I hope to finish in the Top 10 at the end of this year. After Roland Garros I will have almost nothing to defend, so I hope to pick up points at Wimbledon and other tournaments. I hope to be back in the Top 10 sooner or later."
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Old 04-18-2012, 09:28 AM   #100
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Madrid 2011

World No. 2 Novak Djokovic notched his 34th consecutive victory as he brought to an end Rafael Nadal’s 37-match unbeaten run on clay, defeating the defending champion 7-5, 6-4 in the final of the Mutua Madrid Open.

“Under the circumstances, I’ve played probably the best match of my life on clay against the World No. 1 and the player to beat on this surface,” declared Djokovic. “The way I played was just fantastic. I’m definitely satisfied with the performance and the overall tournament.”

The 23-year-old Djokovic has not been beaten since the semi-finals (l. to Federer) of the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals in November and has opened the 2011 season with a 32-0 mark, taking in titles at the Australian Open, Dubai, Indian Wells, Miami, Belgrade and now in Madrid.

The Belgrade native’s 32-0 start to the season is second only to John McEnroe, who began 1984 with a 42-0 mark.

“I know that this run that I have is really incredible but I try to think about how long it’ll go and when I will be beaten,” said Djokovic. “It’s how many more wins I’m going to have. Every time I go on the court I’m motivated to win and not thinking that this is the day I’ll lose.”

After clinching his eighth ATP World Tour Masters 1000 crown, and third of the season, Djokovic received 1000 South African Airways 2011 ATP Ranking points and € 590,000 in prize money. The Serbian is currently leading the way to qualify for the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals and finish the year in the coveted No. 1 spot.

Despite never having beaten Nadal on clay in nine previous attempts, Djokovic went into the final with the confidence of having defeated the Spaniard in their past two meetings in the finals of the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournaments in Indian Wells and Miami. The Serbian certainly looked to have the measure of Nadal in the opening exchanges and his devastating hitting from the baseline quickly earned him a 4-0 lead, silencing the Caja Magica.

The top-seeded Nadal hit back swiftly, though, and immediately halved the deficit to the delight of the local fans. Djokovic looked as though he would close out the set in the ninth game as he opened up a 30/0 lead on serve, but Nadal fought back and broke the Serbian to bring himself back level.

It was testament to Djokovic’s self belief that he maintained his composure in the face of Nadal’s revival and nearly clinched the set in the 10th game as he engineered three set points. He was unable to convert, but attacked Nadal again in the 12th game and was rewarded by finally laying claim to the first set.

Nadal responded in some style at the start of the second set, hitting the shot of the match with a sensational ‘tweener lob winner as he broke Djokovic in the opening game (watch video). But again Djokovic stayed focussed and immediately struck back to level. As the set approached its conclusion, it was Djokovic who displayed the nerves of steel and the courage to attack as he broke Nadal in the 10th game to seal victory in two hours and 17 minutes.

“He’s playing at a really high level. We’ve got to accept that,” said Nadal. “When someone is better than you there is nothing you can do other than congratulate him and that’s it and look forward to your next tournament and try to keep up, see what you’re missing, what you’re doing right and face forward with the correct attitude and with mental strength. You have to be cold, mentally speaking, and you have to look for solutions. Try to be better, try to practice and next time I’ll try to do better.”

The 24-year-old Nadal was chasing his third title in Madrid, after victories in 2005 (d. Ljubicic) and 2010 (d. Federer), and his third trophy of the season. The Mallorcan had not lost a clay-court match since the 2009 Roland Garros fourth round (l. to Soderling) and opened his 2011 campaign with back-to-back victories at Monte-Carlo and Barcelona (d. Ferrer both times).

Last year Nadal completed a historic sweep of the three ATP World Tour Masters 1000 clay-court tournaments, before triumphing at Roland Garros. He will look to rebound from this defeat by retaining his title at next week’s Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome.
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Old 04-18-2012, 09:28 AM   #101
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ROME 2011

World No. 2 Novak Djokovic continues to marvel. A week after ending Rafael Nadal’s 37-match unbeaten run on clay in the Mutua Madrid Open final, the Serbian dethroned the Spaniard in the Internazionali BNL d’Italia final with a 6-4, 6-4 win on Sunday evening in Rome.

“He is the king of clay and he is the best player ever to play on this surface. I have won against him twice in the last eight days which I think is incredible, an incredible achievement for me, and he has given me a lot of confidence for the French Open,” said Djokovic. “This is only a couple of tournaments this year and he has since been dominant on this surface for so many, many years.”

Djokovic has now won 39 successive tour-level matches (37-0 in 2011), the sixth-longest winning streak in the Open Era. He has not been beaten since the semi-finals (l. to Federer) of the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals in November and has opened this season by winning seven successive titles, beginning with his second Grand Slam crown at the Australian Open (d. Murray).

After getting the better of Nadal in the finals on hard court at the BNP Paribas Open and the Sony Ericsson Open in March, many expected the Spaniard to right those wrongs come the clay-court season, during which he has been utterly dominant in recent years. Not so.

Nadal, who completed a historic clay sweep last Spring – taking in the three ATP World Tour Masters 1000 clay-court titles before triumphing at Roland Garros – has been unable to find the answer to Djokovic’s brilliance this season and now has surrendered two of his crowns to the Belgrade native. Indeed, going into Sunday’s final, the Spaniard had lost just one match in his past 32 at the Foro Italico and had won the title five times (2005-2007; 2009-2010) before being upended by Djokovic in straight sets.

“I have been doing everything that I can so I cannot ask myself more,” said Nadal. “I am trying and I am doing very well, but one player is doing better than me. The champion in my opinion is not only be able to win every week; it is when they are able to wait at the right moments and I am waiting at every week, trying to find solutions, and we will see what is going on next time… I wish him all the best and I have to wait my moment to win another time.”

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The 23-year-old Djokovic claimed his ninth ATP World Tour Masters 1000 crown, and fourth of the season. He is the first player to win four Masters 1000 crowns in the same season since Nadal and Roger Federer claimed four apiece in 2005.

Already a strong favourite to qualify for the year-end Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, Djokovic earned a further 1000 South African Airways 2011 ATP Ranking points and € 438,000 in prize money. Nadal received 600 ranking points and € 205,000.

After fighting back from the brink to defeat Andy Murray in a dramatic late-finishing semi-final on Saturday night, it was expected fatigue could play a part in Djokovic’s performance in the final. However, there was no evidence of tiredness in the Serb’s legs as he broke down Nadal’s defences in the eighth game to lead 5-3. Nadal immediately struck back in the following game to get back on serve, but his reprieve was only temporary as Djokovic broke again in the 10th game to seal the set with a backhand winner cross court.

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Nadal was immediately under pressure in the early stages of the second set and fell behind 0-2 as he sliced a backhand wide on break point. Determined not to surrender his title without a fight, though, the Spaniard straightaway pegged Djokovic back as the Serb committed costly errors in the third game.

With the tension mounting at the close of the second set it was Djokovic who stepped up his game to force the issue. The right-hander battered Nadal from the baseline to earn three match points at 0/40 on the Spaniard’s serve in the 10th game and, although unable to convert any of those three, he capitalised on a fourth opportunity to claim victory in two hours and 12 minutes.

“I was amazed the way I was going to be under the circumstances and the conditions that I was,” Djokovic said. “[It was a] really hard match last night against a player that was playing great. I was on the verge of losing a match and I was coming back and to be able to perform perhaps my best tennis on clay courts and he is the number one player in world history and just amazing. I am still trying to enjoy this victory.”

Despite the loss, Nadal drew positives from his performance in Rome: “My level felt much better today than it did in Madrid. I was able to go inside the court and move well and to play more aggressive, and I think I did. I am not disappointed about my match and I am not sad tonight. We will try next time.”

Victory marked Djokovic’s second triumph at the Foro Italico, having first lifted the trophy in 2008 with victory over Stanislas Wawrinka. Also runner-up to Nadal in the 2009 final, the Serb improved to an 18-3 tournament mark.

“I am most happy about the game this year on clay,” he said. “The way I was fighting all the way, I am confident and aware and [have] self-belief that I can win against the top players.”
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Old 04-18-2012, 09:29 AM   #102
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DUSSELDORF 2011

GERMANY 2, ARGENTINA 1

Germany won a record fifth Power Horse World Team Cup title on Saturday at the Dusseldorf Rochusclub with a 2-1 victory over defending champion Argentina in the final. The host nation became the first country to win the title five times in the tournament’s 34-year history.

After the two singles rubbers had been shared earlier in the day, it fell to Philipp Kohlschreiber and Philipp Petzschner to clinch the tie for Germany as they defeated Juan Ignacio Chela and Maximo Gonzalez 6-3, 7-6(5) in the deciding doubles rubber.

"Every title is important, but a team title is something very special in tennis," said Kohlschreiber. "We have a great team, it’s real fun. I lost my singles match, but I came out strongly for the doubles and it’s great to have a happy ending. We’ve been looking forward to this event because we knew we had a great team spirit and this success is a really great honour for everybody."

"The world team title is a great success for all of us," declared Petzschner. "We wanted to present ourselves well and did it. It’s been a great experience throughout the whole week. It was a great team effort making it to the final and then succeeding today; it’s just a great feeling. For us the tournament was not just preparation for Paris, we desperately wanted that title."

It was the third time that Germany and Argentina had contested the final of the ATP World Tour Team Championship, and the third time that Germany had triumphed over its South American rivals, having also prevailed in the 2005 and 1989 finals.

World No. 21 Florian Mayer had made an emphatic start for Germany as he defeated Argentine Juan Monaco 7-6(4), 6-0 in one hour and 33 minutes. Victory for Mayer, his 26th of the season, meant he will rise to a new career-high of No. 20 in the South African Airways 2011 ATP Rankings on Monday.

"Today I played for the Top 20. I was extremely motivated and am happy that I achieved my goal. The first set was very tough with just a few points being decisive. The second set was much easier," reflected Mayer. "The World Team Championship enjoys a really great importance in our team because we play in Germany and in front of German crowds."

Juan Ignacio Chela had then hit back for defending champion Argentina in the second singles rubber as he overcame Kohlschreiber 6-4, 7-6(4) in a match lasting just shy of two hours. The 31-year-old Buenos Aires native was on the winning Argentina side that triumphed in 2007.

"We lost in the final, but for us it was a great week; I’m really happy that we reached the final," said Chela. "I won all four of my matches so I go to Paris very confident."

Argentina had advanced to the final for the seventh time after topping the Red Group with a perfect 3-0 record, and was also bidding to win a record fifth title in Dusseldorf.

"We lost the final against a very difficult opponent, but we are very proud of what we did this week," said Monaco. "We have a lot of passion to win this tournament, but Germany played very well and really deserved it."
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Old 04-18-2012, 09:29 AM   #103
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NICE 2011

World No. 12 Nicolas Almagro confirmed his status as an outside contender for Roland Garros when he won his third ATP World Tour clay-court title of the season on Saturday. The Spaniard came from a set down to defeat Romanian Victor Hanescu 6-7(5), 6-3, 6-3 in the final of the Open de Nice Côte d’Azur.

“I think I’m ready for Roland Garros," declared Almagro. "I want to rest a little bit now, tomorrow I want to practise, and we’ll see what happens on Tuesday. It’s the most important clay-court tournament of the year and I go with a lot of confidence in my tennis and we’ll see what I can do in Paris.”

Almagro has enjoyed a career-best start to the season, highlighted by breaking the Top 10 in the South African Airways 2011 ATP Rankings for the first time on 25 April. In February he went on a 13-match winning streak during the Latin American “Golden Swing”, taking in back-to-back titles in Costa do Sauipe (d. Dolgopolov) and Buenos Aires (d. Chela) before finishing runner-up to David Ferrer in Acapulco.

As winner of the ATP World Tour 250 clay-court tennis tournament in Nice, Almagro received 250 South African Airways 2011 ATP Rankings points and € 72,600 in prize money.

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The Murcia native goes into Roland Garros as the No. 11 seed and opens his campaign against Poland’s Lukasz Kubot. He is a two-time quarter-finalist in Paris, losing out to Rafael Nadal both times in 2008 and 2010.

Almagro was made to work hard for victory in his fourth meeting with the No. 69-ranked Hanescu. After three service breaks were exchanged, the Romanian clinched the opening set on a tie-break. Almagro hit back strongly in the second set, though, breaking serve twice and only dropping four points on his own delivery to level the match.

Hanescu struck first in the deciding set, breaking in the first game. However, Almagro immediately levelled and went on to break the 6’6’’ Romanian’s serve decisively in the sixth game before claiming victory in two hours and 18 minutes.

“I feel good. I’m very happy with the victory today," said Almagro. "I think I didn’t play my best tennis at the beginning of the match, but in the second set I started to play better, hitting my forehand with more confidence, and finally I was able to win the match."

The 25-year-old Almagro captured his 10th ATP World Tour title in his 13th final and became just the third player this season to win at least three tour-level titles (Novak Djokovic – 7, Robin Soderling -3).

The 29-year-old Hanescu was contesting his first ATP World Tour final since finishing runner-up in Casablanca last year. He dropped to a 1-4 record in ATP World Tour finals, with his lone title coming on clay in Gstaad in 2008.

“He was running a lot, hitting good shots; I think he deserved to win," reflected Hanescu. "He was better than me in some important moments. I came here to play some matches and get used to the conditions, so I’m happy to play the final.”
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Old 04-18-2012, 09:30 AM   #104
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FRENCH OPEN 2011

World No. 1 Rafael Nadal won a record-equalling sixth Roland Garros crown on Sunday as he defeated rival Roger Federer 7-5, 7-6(3), 5-7, 6-1 in Sunday’s final in Paris.

The 25-year-old Nadal joined Bjorn Borg as the second player in history to win six titles at the clay-court Grand Slam championship. The Spaniard won four successive titles from 2005-2008 (defeating Federer in the ’06-’08 finals) and regained his trophy last year with victory over Robin Soderling.

"For me it's something very special to equal the six titles of Bjorn, for sure," said Nadal. "But for me, the most important thing is to win Roland Garros. It's really an honour to have this record with him. I am going to keep working to be here next year and to try to play well another time."

Victory for Nadal guarantees him the No. 1 spot in the South African Airways 2011 ATP Rankings on Monday. Had Federer won, Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic would have climbed to the top of the rankings.

Just three days after his 25th birthday, Nadal won his 10th major singles title in his 12th final. In addition to his six victories in Paris, the Mallorcan has won Wimbledon twice, in 2008 and 2010, he lifted the Australian Open trophy in 2009, and last year completed the career Grand Slam with victory at the US Open. His only defeats in Grand Slam finals have come against Federer, at Wimbledon in 2006-2007.

He is the second youngest player, behind Borg to win 10 Grand Slam championships; Borg was 24 years and 30 days old when he won his 10th title at 1980 Wimbledon. The Swede was also just one day younger than Nadal when he won his sixth Roland Garros title in 1981.

Nadal came into Roland Garros having fallen slightly short of his perfect standards from the year before. In 2010 the left-hander had completed a clean sweep of the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 clay-court tournaments in Monte-Carlo, Madrid and Rome, but this year was beaten by Djokovic in the finals at Madrid and Rome.

The Manacor native was then taken to five sets at Roland Garros for the first time when American John Isner forced him to fight back from two-sets-to-one down in the first round. He fought through his early difficulties, though, and it was vintage Nadal who dismantled Andy Murray in the semi-finals before defeating Federer in three hours and 40 minutes on Court Philippe Chatrier on Sunday.

"What I said one week ago is I am going to put in everything to try to change the situation, to try to play better, and that's what I did,' said Nadal. "I try my best in every moment with the right attitude all the time, so finally I was able to play my best when I needed my best.

"So for that reason, today I am here with the trophy. [I am] very happy for that. It's a big personal satisfaction to win this tournament, especially when you started without playing your best. My mind was open to change the situation, so that makes the victory probably more special. So in general, [I am] very, very happy for everything."

World No. 3 Federer was bidding to win his 17th major title and triumph at Roland Garros for the second time, having beaten Soderling in the 2009 final to complete the career Grand Slam. It was his fourth runner-up finish at Roland Garros, and his seventh defeat in a major final – all have come at the hands of Nadal.

"When I went into the rain delay, I was down basically two sets almost," reflected Federer. "I almost saved myself, but I'm very competitive, and I thought he was getting tired throughout the third set and also in the fourth. It was unfortunate I couldn't take my chances early on in the fourth. Rafa played well and deserved the win today.

"Today was a very good match. Overall obviously I'm very happy about the tournament. Obviously you should be disappointed after losing in a Grand Slam final. Obviously I feel that a little bit today. He's a great champion on clay especially, and I am happy with my tournament."

The Swiss, who had been somewhat eclipsed by the achievements of Nadal and Djokovic in the lead-up to Roland Garros, hit his stride in Paris as he advanced to the final having spent just 12 hours and 52 minutes on court, compared to 17 hours and 17 minutes for Nadal. In the semi-finals, Federer had ended Djokovic’s 41-match winning streak in 2011 with victory in four sets to reach his first Grand Slam final since beating Murray at the 2010 Australian Open.
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Old 04-18-2012, 09:31 AM   #105
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HALLE 2011

World No. 49 Philipp Kohlschreiber captured his third ATP World Tour title on Sunday, and his second on home soil, as he defeated Philipp Petzschner in an all-German final at the Gerry Weber Open in Halle. Kohlschreiber had been leading 7-6(5), 2-0 when Petzschner was forced to retire with a lower back injury.

Victory this week marked a turnaround in fortunes for the 27-year-old Kohlschreiber, who went into Halle with a 15-14 match record on the season and just two quarter-final showings. The Augsburg native found his form on the grass, ousting defending champion Lleyton Hewitt in the quarter-finals before toppling No. 3 seed Gael Monfils in the semi-finals.

"I think it was a fantastic week," said Kohlschreiber. "Every day I played a great match. Of course, the final ended quite short, but overall the week was great and to win in Germany is fantastic.

"It ended so quickly. So I wasn’t really feeling like a winner, but it was the best time for a victory. As you could see before, I really worked hard here, I tried to play good tennis here. It hasn’t worked that well this year until now. I never had a real success, so the win came in the right moment for me."

A disappointed Petzschner said, "This was a day to celebrate German tennis. I don’t think it would have been a problem for me had I lost in a tight match, I would have been proud of my performance. But to give up such a final, and then here, that’s incredibly bitter."

Kohlschreiber created the only break point chance in the first set at 5-5, but was unable to convert in a set that was dominated by strong serving performances by both players. In the deciding tie-break, Kohlschreiber established a 6-4 lead and converted his second set point as Petzschner committed a rare backhand unforced error.

However, the No. 71-ranked Petzschner was troubled by a lower back injury and received treatment at the end of the first set. The 27 year old attempted to carry on in the second set, but after going down an early break of serve, was forced to concede.

"I felt kind of nervous playing another German in the final and I knew he’d played a great week as well," reflected Kohlschreiber. "I knew what was coming. He was serving big, so I didn’t have so many chances, but I started to push up my level at the end of the first set and played some really good points in the tie-break. It was very important to win the first set, then maybe the early break and his injury forced him to stop earlier than if he had

won the first set maybe."

As victor of the ATP World Tour 250 grass-court tennis tournament, Kohlschreiber received 250 South African Airways 2011 ATP Ranking points and €114,750 in prize money. It is the first time the right-hander has triumphed at the Gerry Weber Stadion, having finished runner-up to Roger Federer in the 2008 final.

His first two ATP World Tour titles came on clay in Munich (d. Youzhny) four years ago, and on hard court in Auckland (d. Ferrero) in 2008. He improved to a 3-6 record in ATP World Tour finals.

Former World No. 35 Petzschner was looking to win his second ATP World Tour title, adding to the trophy he won indoors in Vienna (d. Monfils) three years ago. Like Kohlschreiber, the Bayreuth had also struggled to find his best form in the first five months of the season, with his best result a semi-final showing in Munich (l. to Mayer). This week he had beaten No. 8 seed Milos Raonic and 2010 Wimbledon runner-up Tomas Berdych to reach the final.

"Both of us played solid tennis, we both served really well," described Petzschner. "And then out of the blue I’m serving and I notice that something is wrong. The more balls I hit the more obvious it became that I couldn’t finish the match like this. Not on a normal level anyway, I could have just stood in court, but that doesn’t make any sense. Maybe I would have really hurt myself then, or something really bad happens that costs me another eight or 10 weeks."
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