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Verdasco Extends Spanish Reign

Barcelona, Spain

Fernando Verdasco© Getty ImagesFernando Verdasco won his fifth ATP World Tour title.

ATP World Tour No. 9 Fernando Verdasco served up the perfect remedy for his loss in the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters final last weekend by defeating Robin Soderling 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 in a high quality title match at the Barcelona Open BancSabadell Sunday.

As champion of the ATP World Tour 500 clay-court tennis tournament, Verdasco earned 500 South African Airways 2010 ATP Ranking points and €286,000, while runner-up Soderling received 300 ranking points and €144,000 in prize money. Both players are bidding to qualify for the second year in a row for the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, to be held at The O2 in London from 21-28 November.

The 26-year-old Verdasco is playing arguably the greatest tennis of his career at the moment, having last week reached the final of an ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournament (l. to Nadal) for the first time. The Madrid native clinched the fifth ATP World Tour title of his career, and his second of the season having triumphed at the SAP Open (d. Roddick) in San Jose in February.

Watch Final Highlights  | Watch Verdasco Interview

"I've always dreamed of winning the title here," said Verdasco. "I grew up watching this tournament on television. It's an incredible feeling, it's hard to put it into words. It's my second title in Spain and my first 500 title. In the past two weeks, with a final in Monte-Carlo and the title here in Barcelona, I've won 1000 points. This is maybe the best moment of my career right now." 

He becomes the eighth successive Spanish winner at the Real Club de Tenis Barcelona-1899, joining Carlos Moya (2003), Tommy Robredo (2004) and Rafael Nadal (2005-2009).

Looking to improve on a 1-4 record against Soderling, fifth seed Verdasco made a strong start to the match, breaking serve to love to lead 4-3 in the first set. The Spaniard then broke again in the ninth game to seal a one-set lead with commanding forehand play. 

Soderling responded well, breaking Verdasco’s serve in the opening game of the second set. Verdasco struck back immediately but the second-seeded Soderling was undeterred and broke again to lead 4-3 before going on to level the match.

Showing no sign of nerves after being pegged back by his Swedish opponent, Verdasco raised his level to break serve in the fourth game of the deciding set as Soderling hooked a forehand wide under pressure. The Spaniard went on to seal victory in two hours and four minutes with strong serving in the final game.

"I didn't start well. I wasn't feeling the ball very well today, which made me a little bit too passive and not aggressive enough," lamented Soderling. "After the first set it was much better but I made one bad game in the third set with a few backhand errors and that cost me the match.

"A final in a tournament like this is still a pretty good week, though. I am still looking to play at the same level that I had towards the end of the clay-court season last year. It hasn't been bad so far but I know I can still do better.
 
"He [Verdasco] is playing really well. He's playing with a lot of confidence from the last two weeks. He's a great player and he's going to be a tough player to beat in the next couple of weeks."

The 25-year-old Soderling, playing his first clay-court tournament of the year, was also bidding for his second ATP World Tour title of the season, having triumphed at the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament (d. Youzhny) in February. The Tibro native, who reached the Roland Garros final (l. to Federer) last year, was the first Swedish player to reach the Barcelona final since Magnus Larsson did so in 1995 (l. to Muster).

Both players will now travel to Rome to compete in next week’s Internazionali BNL d’Italia, the fourth ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournament of the season.

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