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Berdych Boosts Finals Chances, Ends Title Drought

Beijing, China

Berdych© Getty ImagesTomas Berdych snapped a 29-month title drought.

Barclays ATP World Tour Finals hopeful Tomas Berdych will move to No. 7 in the Battle for London after ending a 29-month title drought with a 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 victory over Marin Cilic in the China Open final on Sunday in Beijing.

The Czech player is bidding to qualify for the season finale for the second year in a row and surpasses Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the South African Airways 2011 ATP Year-To-Date Rankings by virtue of his triumph over Cilic. It was the sixth title of his career and his first since hoisting the trophy at the BMW Open (d. Youzhny) in May 2009.

"To win this title means really a lot to me because it's after 29 months," said Berdych. "It was quite a long time, so I'm happy that I could break this up. I think I couldn't have a better place to win a title than here in Beijing.

"I did a great move to have a good chance to qualify for London. Still, these two weeks in Shanghai and Paris I really need to do well. I want to do well. It just gives me a lot of confidence for the rest of the season and for the rest of the tournaments. So I'm really looking forward to that. I hope I can keep my level of game what I did and hopefully to win even more matches."

The unseeded Cilic made the better start to the match, breaking early before going on to close out the opening set. Berdych hit back at the start of the second set, but was unable to maintain his lead as Cilic broke back in the seventh game.

Under pressure, Berdych saved two break points with unreturned serves in the ninth game, before upping his level to snatch the second set from Cilic with a rifled backhand winner on break point in the 10th game. Cilic, who also finished runner-up in the 2009 Beijing final (l. to Djokovic), was unable to regain the momentum and fast began to unravel in the third set. Berdych broke twice as he raced to claim victory in just over two hours.

"I think the key moment was a break when it was 5-4; Marin was serving and I made a set point and just won the second set," reflected Berdych. "That moment I started to really feel great, get some more energy for the third set, and then it was just my turn in the third set."

The 26-year-old Berdych improved to a 47-18 match record on the season. Having fallen at the semi-final stage six times in 2011, the right-hander was contesting his first tour-level final since finishing runner-up to Rafael Nadal in the 2010 Wimbledon title match.

The No. 25-ranked Cilic was also looking to end a lengthy spell without silverware. The Croatian’s last ATP World Tour title came in February 2010 at the PBZ Zagreb Indoors (d. Berrer). He has now lost four successive finals, including earlier this year at the Open 13 in Marseille (l. to Soderling) and the ATP Studena Croatia Open in Umag (l. to Dolgopolov).

"I'm feeling a little bit disappointed by the loss today," said Cilic. "I would say that I was playing really great tennis from the beginning of the match. That first set went really well on my side. I had two advantages at 4-4 [in the second set]; got maybe a little bit tense and he served two big first serves. From then on, I think he started to play a little bit better and wasn't giving me as much and I wasn't finding right solutions for the game after that.

"I felt psychologically in these critical moments, especially at the end of the second set and the beginning of the third, I missed a few chances here and there. So I would say that was the reason."

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