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Haase Captures First Title

Kitzbuhel, Austria

Haase© GEPA PicturesRobin Haase is the eighth first-time winner on the ATP World Tour this season.

World No. 53 Robin Haase captured his first ATP World Tour title on Saturday as he overcame the more experienced Albert Montanes, 6-4, 4-6, 6-1 in the final of the Bet-At-Home Cup Kitzbühel.

The 24-year-old Dutchman, who was contesting his first ATP World Tour final, is the eighth first-time winner on the tour this year, and the second in as many weeks following Alexandr Dolgopolov’s victory in Umag last week.

As winner of the ATP World Tour 250 clay-court tennis tournament, Haase received 250 South African Airways 2011 ATP Ranking points and €72,600 in prize money. The Hague native is the first Dutchman to win an ATP World Tour trophy since Martin Verkerk captured Amersfoort in 2004.

"It’s an amazing feeling. I’m really happy that I won," said Haase. "It was one of the goals this year to make it into a semi-final or final, and maybe win it. I was close a few times when I played good but actually lost to good players. To win this match and beat good players this week was really great."

Haase had impressed en route to the final, taking out second seed Feliciano Lopez and sixth seed Andreas Seppi in a heavy-duty Thursday, and held strong in the opening set of the final, withstanding five break points before breaking Montanes in the 10th game.

Former World No. 22 Montanes responded in the second set, breaking to lead 2-1. Haase drew level in the sixth game, but immediately surrendered his serve and Montanes went on to level the match. Undeterred, though, Haase raced to a 5-0 lead in the deciding set and confidently closed out victory in two hours.

"Definitely I served well from the beginning [of the week]," assessed Haase. "Today, actually, in the second set I served bad, but that was the only time and the rest of the tournament I served really, really well. Then I attacked with my forehand and I was defending really, really good this week, so I didn’t make a lot of unforced errors. I think was the key of this week."

The 30-year-old Montanes was contesting his 10th ATP World Tour final and dropped to a 5-5 record. Since losing his first four finals, he had gone unbeaten in five championships, most recently winning the MercedesCup in Stuttgart (d. Monfils) just over a year ago.

"It's a pity. But I knew that it was going to be difficult because he was playing very well during the whole week," said Montanes. "I played well too. I had my opportunities in the first set but couldn't take advantage of it.

"After winning the second set I started feeling a bit tired. The last few days were very intense; I played two matches during one day and against Juan [Ignacio Chela] it was a hard match too. I couldn't maintain my rhythm in the end and I have to congratulate Robin for a spectacular week here in Kitzbühel. I wish him the best for the future."

The Barcelona resident, who notched his 200th tour-level win on Friday, was bidding to become the eighth different Spanish winner on the ATP World Tour this season.

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