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Monaco Ends Drought With Fourth Title

Viña del Mar, Chile

Monaco© Jim Rydell/VTR OpenJuan Monaco lifted the VTR Open trophy at the third attempt.

Top seed Juan Monaco ended a five-year title drought on Sunday at the VTR Open as he defeated first-time finalist Carlos Berlocq 6-3, 6-7(1), 6-1 in an all-Argentine final in Vina del Mar.

The 27-year-old Monaco improved to a 4-8 record in ATP World Tour finals, with his three previous titles all coming in 2007 at the Copa Claro in Buenos Aires (d. Di Mauro), Poertschach (d. Monfils) and the bet-at-home Cup Kitzbühel (d. Starace). Since then he had recorded seven runner-up finishes, including twice at the VTR Open in 2008 (l. to F. Gonzalez) and 2010 (l. to Bellucci).

"Third time is lucky they say, so this time it’s true," joked Monaco. "I’m very happy to be champion again. I lost the last seven finals, so this is a very special moment for me. I’m very happy because I fought a lot, I practised a lot and I was thinking a lot about winning a tournament again. [It gives me] confidence and motivation."

In the first all-Argentine final on the ATP World Tour in four years, Monaco made a strong start, racing to a 4-1 lead before wrapping up the first set. He looked to be in command of the match as he established a 4-2 lead in the second set, but Berlocq fought back and levelled the match after dominating the tie-break. Monaco regrouped quickly, though, and broke serve twice in the decider to claim victory in two hours and 46 minutes.

"It was a hard final," assessed Monaco. "At the beginning I felt I was playing very well. Then in the second set I started playing a little bit nervous and he came back, fought a lot, and at that time played really well. I tried to be very focussed, tried to fight for every point like it was the last one and I started playing better every game."

Monaco had come into the VTR Open having played just one match in 2012, suffering a five-set first-round loss to Philipp Kohlschreiber at the Australian Open. He improved to a 4-1 match record on the year.

Berlocq, who celebrated his 29th birthday on Friday, had only dropped one set en route to his first ATP World Tour final, including victory over second seed Juan Ignacio Chela in the semi-finals. The right-hander was also later denied silverware in the doubles final as he and Spanish partner Pablo Andujar were beaten by Frederico Gil and Daniel Gimeno-Traver 1-6, 7-5, 12-10.

"I felt very good," said Berlocq. "I was very calm and I enjoyed it a lot. I think I did things well and played the match very well tactically. I think that if I continue this way I can continue achieving good results. Now I have to continue working and trying to reach this level of performance as many times as possible each year.

"It gives me a lot of confidence to be able to play at this level. It also gives me peace of mind and confidence to be able to play with the players at an equal level. All the players here are of good quality and even though I reached a final this week, every week is different and I have to continue being focussed and working hard."

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