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Tipsarevic Captures First Title

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Tipsarevic© Malaysian OpenJanko Tipsarevic captured his first ATP World Tour title.

World No. 17 Janko Tipsarevic captured his first ATP World Tour title at the fifth attempt when he beat Marcos Baghdatis 6-4, 7-5 on Sunday in the Malaysian Open, Kuala Lumpur 2011 final.

"It feels great. I think I deserved it," said Tipsarevic. "I’m so happy that it came in a good place, at a tournament that is really, really nice, and against a good player. Marcos Baghdatis has played in 11 finals and was a former Top 10 player, a Grand Slam finalist. So I feel happy that I won against a great player in a final that I hope kept the fans on the edge of their seats until the very end. I could not be happier."

The Serbian was the only player in the Top 20 not to have won an ATP World Tour title, with four runner-up efforts behind him at the 2009 Kremlin Cup in Moscow (l. to Youzhny), the 2010 UNICEF Open in ‘s-Hertogenbosch (l. to Stakhovsky), and this year at the Delray Beach International Tennis Championships (l. to del Potro) and the AEGON International in Eastbourne (l. to Seppi).

He becomes the 10th first-time winner on the ATP World Tour this season and earns 250 South African Airways 2011 ATP Ranking points plus $155,000 in prize money.

At the age of 27, Tipsarevic has enjoyed his best season on the ATP World Tour, compiling a 44-20 match record and hitting a career-high World No. 13 in the South African Airways 2011 ATP Rankings after reaching his first Grand Slam quarter-final at the US Open (l. to Djokovic) last month.

Tipsarevic is currently No. 13 in the South African Airways 2011 ATP Year-To-Date Rankings, with the chance to claim one of the final four spots at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, but the Belgrade native insisted he is not looking that far ahead.

"I know that it’s a really long way off," said Tipsarevic. "I have a certain amount of points and another eight guys have like 700 or 800 points more than me, which means I need to perform really good at the Masters 1000 events in Shanghai and Paris in order to have the chance to overtake Tsonga or Fish. But I’m not thinking about that. Since I’m going to stay Top 20 or Top 15 for the rest of the year, I would be overwhelmed if I had the chance to finish Top 10."

The third seed suffered a slow start to the final as he fell behind 0-3, but he struck back in the fifth game before breaking again in the seventh game to clinch the first set. He raced to a 4-1 double break lead in the second set, but was pegged back by the resilient Baghdatis, who levelled at 5-5 after Tipsarevic failed to serve out the match in the 10th game.

Tipsarevic quickly regained his composure, though, and broke Baghdatis again in the 11th game before sealing victory on his third match point after two hours and six minutes.

"I knew I had to play overall good," reflected Tipsarevic. "In two of my previous four finals I was overly aggressive and in two of them I was too defensive, and this is not the way to win an ATP World Tour title. You need to feel the game; you need to know what to do in certain moments. At 5-5 I stayed calm, I didn’t panic, I didn’t choke. I managed to find my game and close out the match in two sets."

Former World No. 8 Baghdatis was bidding to win his first ATP World Tour title of a difficult season, which has seen him tumble from the Top 20 to No. 60 in the South African Airways 2011 ATP Rankings. The Cypriot, who had not lost a set en route to the final, dropped to a 4-7 mark in tour-level finals, but will return to the World’s Top 50 at around No. 46 on Monday.

“It wasn't my day today,” conceded Baghdatis. “Janko played great. He deserved to win, he was more aggressive. You just have to say ‘well done’ to Janko for a great week and a great year overall.

“I played some great tennis this week and I hope I can keep it up for the rest of the season,” added the 26 year old, who faces Bangkok champion Andy Murray in the first round of the Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships next week.

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