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Granollers Defeats Blake to Win First ATP Title

Houston, Texas

Marcel Granollers© Emily JaschkeMarcel Granollers claims his first ATP World Tour title.

Spaniard Marcel Granollers, the No. 7 seed, clinched his first career ATP title as he defeated top seeded American James Blake 6-4, 1-6, 7-5 in the US Men's Clay Court Championship final on Sunday in Houston.

Granollers secured the opening set with a break of serve in his first career match against a Top 10 player, but World No. 8 Blake responded by limiting the first-time ATP finalist to just one game in the ensuing set as he converted on three of his four break point chances.

Blake took the 2-0 lead in the decisive set, but Granollers broke back in the fifth game and then earned his first opportunity to serve out the match when he broke again to go up 5-4. The two traded breaks of serve again before Granollers-Pujol held to close out the Championship in two hours and 12 minutes.

"When I made 3-2, I come back very, very good, with more power," said Granollers. "At 5-4 with my serve [it] was difficult game because I missed easy volley, but I come back good and finally I can win the match."

The 22-year-old Granollers is the fourth first-time ATP winner this year, joining Kei Nishikori (Delray Beach), Sergiy Stakhovsky (Zagreb) and Sam Querrey (Las Vegas).

He is the sixth player this year to win an ATP title after saving match point during the tournament; he saved two against American Wayne Odesnik in his semifinal match Saturday. Earlier Sunday, fellow Spaniard David Ferrer won the Valencia title after surviving two match points in his quarterfinal match this week.

Granollers was playing in his eighth career ATP tournament, and his first as a direct entry, having qualified or received wild cards for his other main draw appearances. The Barcelona native was also playing in his first ATP event on U.S. soil.

Prior to this week, his previous best results had been the quarterfinals at 2007 Valencia (l. to Starace) and 2008 Acapulco (l. to Acasuso). He improves to a 10-7 career record in ATP matches, and an 8-3 record for the season.

He celebrated the win by jumping into the club's pool along with his coach, Alberto Banus.

World No. 8 Blake finishes as runner-up for the second time this season; he lost to another first-time ATP titlist, Japan's Kei Nishikori, in the Delray Beach final two months ago. Blake, playing in his first title match on clay courts, falls to a 10-12 lifetime record in ATP finals.

"It’s now the second time this year that I’ve made the younger player’s day," said Blake. "It’s tough being on the receiving end of it. I know how that feels when I was young and I got to beat Agassi and win my first title against Srichaphan. It’s an exciting feeling, really it is. It definitely feels like the sky is the limit at that point, and I’m sure he’s feeling that excited right now, and I’m happy for him, but obviously I would like to thwart that and continued my successful play."

The 28-year-old was making his eighth straight appearance in Houston, and was trying to become the third American in the past four years to win the title in Houston, joining Andy Roddick (2005), Mardy Fish (2006). He now stands at a 16-8 event record and a 35-35 lifetime record on clay.

He said: "Right now I’m very upset about it. Very disappointed. But hopefully in a day or two I’ll think about the fact that at least I made the finals of my first clay court tournament and had chances to win it, really know I can succeed hopefully on European clay."


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