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Stepanek Defeats Monfils To Win Washington Title

Washington D.C., U.S.A.

Stepanek © Getty ImagesRadek Stepanek is the oldest singles champion on the ATP World Tour this season.

Radek Stepanek upset No. 1 seed Gael Monfils 6-4, 6-4 in the final of the Legg Mason Tennis Classic on Sunday in Washington D.C. to capture his fifth singles title.

The former World No. 8, who entered the week ranked No. 54, collects $264,000 in prize money with victory at the ATP World Tour 500 tournament and is projected to move to around No. 30 in the in the South African Airways 2011 ATP Rankings.

“It’s my biggest win in my career so far and it’s coming in the later stage of my career, so it means so much to me that I’m capable even in this age to play such great tennis, beating the guys from the Top 10 and winning the title,” said the Czech. “It’s really an amazing feeling.”

Stepanek broke the World No. 7 in the third game of the match to move ahead 2-1 and maintained his advantage, closing out the set with an ace.

The Czech converted a break of serve to start the second set, and again held onto his lead, wrapping up the victory in one hour and 33 minutes. Stepanek won 91 per cent of his first service points and did not face a break point.

“I wanted to be in control of the match, be the boss on the court, the one who is deciding what’s going on,” said Stepanek. “I was trying to come to the net because that was my game plan to be aggressive, put as many returns to the court as much as I can, and when I have the chance to attack. My game plan was working perfectly, and I was aggressive from the first point to the last one.”

The win snapped Stepanek’s two-match losing streak against Monfils, and he improved to a 3-5 record against the Frenchman. He is the first player from the Czech Republic to win the tournament in 19 years, after Petr Korda took home the crown in 1992. The 32 year old is also the oldest singles champion on the ATP World Tour this season.

“We are like wine. The older we are getting, the better we are,” he stated. “Until my body falls apart I’ll be trying to stay competitive in this level. It’s very difficult because all the guys are great at this; they’re moving very fast and, as we all know, the speed is leaving slowly, we cannot go against Mother Nature. But I’m very pleased and happy the work I’m putting in for many years is paying off and I’m still able to compete with the top guys.”

Stepanek was appearing in his first final since finishing runner-up to Andy Roddick in Brisbane in 2010. Prior to Sunday, the Czech last won a singles title in 2009, at the ATP World Tour 250 event in San Jose.

Monfils was contesting his first final of the year, earning his place in the championship match after saving match points against American John Isner in a late-night thriller Saturday.

“It’s a bit difficult the recovery, it’s pretty quick and fast,” Monfils admitted, “but still I think Radek played a tough match today. He was pretty aggressive and didn’t miss a lot of balls, so I think he played better than me today.”

He added about his performance in Washington: “I felt in great shape. I think my tennis started to be better and better. I think I had a great week, even if I didn’t catch the title, but still it’s a great week.”

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