ESTORIL OPEN 2012
Del Potro Retains Estoril Open Crown
by James Buddell|
Top-seeded Argentine Juan Martin del Potro successfully defended his Estoril Open title on Sunday with a 6-4, 6-2 victory over second seed and 2007 runner-up Richard Gasquet of France in 88 minutes. It was the first No. 1 seed versus No. 2 seed final in four years (Federer-Davydenko) at the Estadio Nacional.
Del Potro became the third player in the 23-year-old history of the ATP World Tour 250 clay-court tournament to win back-to-back titles. He joined Spaniard Albert Montanes (2009-10), who he beat in this year's quarter-finals, and former World No. 1 Thomas Muster (1995-96).
The 23-year-old Tandil native earned €71,900 in prize money and 250 South African Airways ATP Ranking points, while Gasquet went home with €37,860 and 150 points. It was del Potro's 11th tour-level title (11-5 lifetime and 4-0 on clay) and second title of 2012 after the Open 13 in February.
"I felt I played really well today," said del Potro. "I felt it was my best match of the week, so I am very glad for that to get another title in Estoril.
"I play really aggressive all the time and I felt really confident on my forehand. I grew in confidence every game. It is important for me. I played my best to beat Gasquet.
"I am getting closer and closer to my best form. I have worked really hard at home and now I have another important tournament next week to improve further. If I play as well as I did today over the coming days, I will be happy."
Del Potro, who beat Gasquet in this year's Marseille quarter-finals, broke his opponent to love in the opening game. Gasquet came under further pressure at 1-3, when del Potro's power from the baseline forced one break point opportunity at 30/40. Gasquet saved it by charging the net for a forehand volley winner.
While del Potro experienced few problems in holding serve, the reverse was true for Gasquet. At 2-4, the Frenchman saved two break points, but del Potro's consistency in long baseline rallies continued to force Gasquet into several errors. Del Potro regularly had Gasquet striking his groundstrokes from three yards behind the baseline.
The World No. 12 sealed the set with a love hold in 54 minutes. In four service games he'd lost seven points on serve. Gasquet had lost 20 of his service points.
Del Potro broke in the first game of the second set, converting his third break point chance with a forehand winner down the line into space. He took a 4-1 lead, with yet another powerful forehand winner and went onto record his fourth straight win in five minutes over Gasquet. It was del Potro's 27th match win of 2012 (27-6 record).
Del Potro dropped 22 games in four matches en route to the title. He held serve 33 of 35 games and won 15 of 34 return games during the week.
The 25-year-old Gasquet dropped to 6-9 in ATP World Tour finals (2-5 on clay). He finished runner-up to Novak Djokovic in the 2007 Estoril Open final.
"He played very well, he's very powerful, has a great a service, a great forehand and backhand," said Gasquet. "He deserved this win. He played better than me. He's very tall and has a good second serve and was hitting the ball very well. He was the better player today.
"It's always disappointing to lose a final. [In the others finals I have lost] I lost five times to Djokovic, [Roger] Federer, now del Potro. They were better than me.
"It's good for me to reach a final. It was a good tournament to prepare for the clay season. I get confidence from this tournament."