Spain’s Nicolas Almagro got the perfect boost ahead of the French Open by ending the magical claycourt run of US qualifier Brian Baker 6-3, 6-2 to successfully defend his Nice Open title yesterday.
It was Almagro’s second tournament win of the year and the 12th of his career.
Baker, 27, was playing in his first ATP final after being sidelined for almost six years having undergone five surgeries (three hip, one elbow, one hernia) before returning to tennis in July last year at the Pittsburgh Futures.
Baker should rise to about 140 in the world from his current 216.
“It was a great week. Every time you go onto court, you want to win. I am a competitor, I hate losing,” Baker said.
“But it has been an unbelievable week. I hoped to qualify at the start of the week and win a match or two, before going to Roland Garros. Obviously, I did much better than that. I think even in the qualifying, I felt as if I was playing pretty well,” Baker said. “I won my three matches easily and knew I was playing good tennis.”
Almagro added: “Baker lost the final today, but he is back, he is playing very good. I think if he plays as he did this week, then he will win many, many tournaments.”
The Spaniard is seeded 12th for Roland Garros, which started yesterday. He opens against Italy’s Paolo Lorenzi.
Baker will play the French Open on a wildcard and takes on Belgium’s Xavier Malisse in the first round.
WORLD TEAM CUP
AP, DUESSELDORF, GERMANY
Serbia defeated the Czech Republic 3-0 on Saturday to win the World Team Cup for the second time.
Janko Tipsarevic and Viktor Troicki, who were both part of Serbia’s winning team in 2009, both won their singles matches to give their country an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match tournament at the Rochus Club.
The No. 8-ranked Tipsarevic pulled ahead first after defeating the No. 7-ranked Tomas Berdych 7-5, 7-6 (8).
“The match could have gone either way,” Tipsarevic said. “I was a little bit lucky.”
Troicki had a poor start against Radek Stepanek and lost the first. The Serb regrouped in the second to wrap up the match in two hours.
In the doubles match, that had no effect on the overall result, Tipsarevic teamed up with Nenad Zimonjic to complete Serbia’s dominance with a 6-3, 6-1 win over Berdych and Frantisek Cermak.
AFP, STRASBOURG, FRANCE
Italian second seed Francesca Schiavone won her fifth WTA title and first since the 2010 French Open when she captured the Strasbourg claycourt tournament with a 6-4, 6-4 win over Alize Cornet.
It was the Italian veteran’s eighth win in nine career meetings against the 66th-ranked French player.
“It’s a great feeling and I want to keep going this way. I’m happy again. I’m feeling the sensation of fighting and feeling the pain, and enjoying my game again,” Schiavone said.
Cornet added: “Right now I’m disappointed, but Francesca was playing well the whole week, not even losing a set. My tennis is improving and coming back. It was only positives for me this week, and now I hope to have a good Roland Garros.”
Schiavone will be seeded 14 at the French Open, which starts in Paris on Sunday, and meets Japanese veteran Kimiko Date Krumm in the first round.
Cornet faces Chinese 31st seed Zheng Jie in her first-round tie.
Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland beat Simona Halep of Romania 7-5, 6-0 to win the Belgian Open.