ST. PETERSBURG OPEN
Kukushkin Upsets Youzhny To Win Maiden Title
St. Petersburg, Russia
by ATP Staff|
World No. 88 Mikhail Kukushkin won his maiden ATP World Tour title in his 19th main draw tour-level event Sunday as he held his nerve to defeat top seed and home favourite Mikhail Youzhny 6-3, 7-6(2) in the final of the St. Petersburg Open.
The Kazakhstani became the fifth first-time winner on the ATP World Tour this season, and the second in as many weeks after Serbian Viktor Troicki’s victory in Moscow last week. He is the second player from Kazakhstan to win an ATP World Tour title, following Andrey Golubev’s triumph in Hamburg in July.
"For me it’s just incredible, this feeling, because I never think that I can win a tournament right now because I was ranking around 90," said Kukushkin. "When I came here I didn’t think I can even play quarter-finals, semis here. I was just concentrating on every match.
"When I came here in the final, I know that I play against Misha Youzhny. Of course I believe in myself, but I didn’t think that I can win this title. I think right now I don’t understand what happened today. I’m in shock because I didn’t think that it’s going to happen with me, and I think I need some time to understand what happened."
Runner-up Youzhny had been hoping to turn up the heat on his London rivals by winning his third ATP World Tour title of the season. The Russian, who began the week at No. 10 in the year-to-date ATP Rankings, is bidding to qualify for the Barclays ATP World Tour finals for the first time.
The 22-year-old Kukushkin showed few signs of nerves in his first ATP World Tour final, racing to a one-set lead with service breaks in the fifth and ninth games. He then fought back from a break down twice in the second set before clinching victory in the tie-break after two hours and 26 minutes.
"He played at home and almost everyone in the crowd was supporting him, so of course this is giving me a lot of problems, but I’m very happy with my game and I played till the last point," said Kukushkin. "Also for me it’s the first win against a Top 10 player, and I’m so happy with that."
Kukushkin’s previous best result on the ATP World Tour had been a semi-final showing as a qualifier in Moscow last year. This year’s Bangkok quarter-finalist improved to a 17-8 match record on the season and is projected to rise to a career-high No. 58 in the South African Airways 2010 ATP Rankings.
"My next goal will be to get in the Top 50, to play good on this level, and I will try to play good in the bigger tournaments because I never played good on the Grand Slams, the Masters [1000s]," said Kukushkin. "Of course I wil try to improve my game, improve my ranking and improve my results."
The 28-year-old Youzhny dropped to a 7-10 record in ATP World Tour finals, 2-3 this season. After runner-up finishes in Rotterdam (l. to Soderling) and Dubai (l. to Djokovic) in February, the Muscovite had won titles in Munich (d. Cilic) and Kuala Lumpur (d. Golubev). He had been hoping to regain the St. Petersburg Open title he had won in 2004 (d. Beck).
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