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First-Time Winner Spotlight Marcel Granollers

Marcel Granollers© Emily Jaschke Marcel Granollers in after winning Houston

Spaniard Marcel Granollers broke through for his first ATP title on Sunday in the US Men's Clay Court Championship in Houston, defeating No. 8 ranked James Blake in three sets.

Granollers saved two match points in the semifinals against American Wayne Odesnik and then rallied from an 0-3 third set deficit against Blake. The title lifts the 22-year-old Barcelona native 30 spots to a career-high No. 54 in the South African Airways ATP Rankings. He is the fourth player to capture his first ATP title this season. After his win Granollers sat down with

How does it feel to win your first ATP title with a win over a Top 10 player?
I feel very very good and happy because it's a dream for me since I was young to one day (win an ATP title). It's unbelievable and he's a very good player. I've seen James on television and at a lot of tournaments because he's a great player. I am very happy to beat a Top 10 player like James.

How important was it to get that early break to go up 3-0 in the first set? Did you feel like it gave you the confidence that you could beat a top player like Blake?
I started very good and I played a very good game at 5-4 (to break). It was important to win the first set. In the second set, he started to play better and better and had more confidence and played very good. At the beginning of the third set James played very good and I started to play better with more confidence once I got the break. When I broke for 3-2 I started to play better and with more confidence.

Did you ever think you would be here with the trophy after going down 6-3, 5-3 in the semifinals (and saving two match points)?
When I was three-love down in the third set I felt like I could come back and win the match since I came back in the semifinals (when I was down two match points). At 5-4 with my serve [it] was difficult game because I missed an easy volley, but I came back good and finally I won the match.

It was quite a weekend for Spanish tennis with David Ferrer beating Nicolas Almagro in the Valencia final and your friend Oscar getting to the semifinals here. Spain is also in the Davis Cup semifinals. What do you think about Spanish tennis right now?
I think Spain is one of the best countries known in tennis and I am happy to win today and there were two Spanish guys in the Valencia final. It's good for Spain.

You grew up on clay and obviously that's your best surface. What are the strengths of your game?
A few years ago, I played a lot of tournaments in Futures and Challengers on hard courts and carpet. I like to be aggressive on the court with my serve and also my forehand and backhand. I like to be aggressive and be solid from the baseline. My backhand is very flat and I have more spin on my forehand but how James plays it's not easy to play with a lot of spin.

Away from tennis, what are your hobbies or interests you enjoy doing?
I like to go out with my friends, to cinema, and stay at home with my family. I also like to follow the R.C.D. Espanol (soccer club) in Barcelona.

How did you get started in tennis and who helped you along during your junior days?
I started to play because my parents played at a tennis club for fun and I was very young with them when I started to play. I started to practice with the Catalan Federation until I was 18 years old and then I changed coaches last year.

What goal(s) did you set going into this season? Now that you won your first title what other goals do you have?
I didn't really think about ranking goals. I just wanted to play good on the court and enjoy and concentrate on my matches. We will see at the end of the year (about the ranking). I just want to play well every week and try to do my best always and just win matches.

What is something that the public doesn't know about you?
I am a normal guy and I like to be with my friends and family and this is not going to change (even though I won my first ATP title). I am going to be the same

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