Tue, May 08, 2012 - Page 18 News List

Del Potro downs Gasquet to retain Estoril Open title

AFP, ESTORIL, PORTUGAL

Top seed Juan Martin del Potro retained his title at the Estoril Open on Sunday after inflicting a 6-4, 6-2 defeat on second seed Richard Gasquet.

The Argentine world No. 12 became the third man in the tournament’s history to win the clay title in successive years, following in the footsteps of Thomas Muster (1995 and 1996) and Albert Montanes (2009 and 2010).

It was also Del Potro’s second title of the season after his victory in Marseille, France, in February, and his 11th of a career that includes a US Open success in 2009.

“I just played my game and raised my level all week,” Del Potro said. “Today was my best match. To win two titles here is great.”

The loss left Gasquet still looking for his first ATP trophy since triumphing in Nice, France, in May 2010.

The final was played in sunny conditions after wind and rain affected the early days of the event at the Estadio Nacional.

Del Potro broke to love in the first game to set the tone, but Gasquet put up a fight throughout an opening set that lasted 54 minutes.

The Frenchman, renowned for his flawless one-handed backhand, saved break points in the fifth and seventh games, before his South American opponent sealed the set with a concluding break.

Del Potro then began the second set with a break of serve and turned up the pressure, to run out the winner with six aces and three breaks of serve in just under 90 minutes on court.

The Argentine did win a pair of Davis Cup rubbers on clay against Croatia six weeks ago, but he will still be delighted to triumph in what was his first ATP Tour clay-court event of the season after he chose to skip Monte Carlo and train at home.

He has now appeared in four finals on clay in his career and won the lot, while Gasquet missed the chance to become the first man from France to win the Portuguese title since the event began in 1990.

He also lost the 2007 final to a then up-and-coming Djokovic.

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