Sun, Jan 17, 2010 - Page 20 News List

Baghdatis captures fourth career title

CYPRIOT SUCCESSWhile Marcos Baghdatis claimed victory in Sydney, Fernando Verdasco was a winner in Melbourne and towering John Isner triumphed in Auckland

AFP , SYDNEY

The 24-year-old hit 22 aces, but his high unforced error rate kept the ice-cool Frenchman in contention for the Auckland title until Isner grabbed the advantage in the third-set tie-breaker for a 6-3, 5-7, 7-6 (7/2) victory.

The title win in only his second ATP world tour final capped a year when the 2.06m Isner climbed more than 100 places in the world rankings to 33 at the start of the week.

Clement had little answer in the first set to Isner’s booming serve and powerful ground strokes, which had earlier accounted for seventh seed Juan Monaco and top seed Tommy Robredo.

Like Isner, Clement was unseeded in the Auckland event with a world ranking of 67, but the 2001 Australian Open finalist found his best form to defeat second seed David Ferrer and sixth seed Jurgen Melzer on his way to the final.

Isner broke his 33-year-old French opponent in the eighth game of the first set and easily held his service games to take the first set 6-3.

Clement came back strongly in the second set, however, using the serve and volley, and targeting Isner’s backhand to unsettle his bigger opponent.

Unforced errors in Isner’s final service match of the second set saw the steadier Clement take the final into three sets.

The pair both dropped their first service games of the third set, but settled back into their rhythm to force the tie-break. Isner raced to a 6/2 lead and clinched the title with a booming forehand.

■HOBART INTERNATIONAL

REUTERS, SYDNEY

Ukraine’s Alona Bondarenko defeated Israel’s Shahar Peer 6-2, 6-4 in the final of the Hobart International yesterday to claim her second WTA title.

Bondarenko raced to victory in 73 minutes, despite dropping serve twice in the second set, to add the Hobart title to her previous win in Luxembourg in 2006.

In the doubles final, Chuang Chia-jung of Taiwan and Kveta Peschke of the Czech Republic defeated Taiwan’s Chan Yung-jan and Monica Niculescu of Romania 3-6, 6-3, 10-7.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY STAFF WRITER

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