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Klizan Captures Maiden ATP World Tour Title

St. Petersburg, Russia

Klizan© Sergey NavetnyMartin Klizan became the first first-time winner on the ATP World Tour this season.

World No. 45 Martin Klizan captured his first ATP World Tour title on Sunday as he defeated Fabio Fognini 6-2, 6-3 in the final of the St. Petersburg Open. He is the first Slovakian to win a tour title since Dominik Hrbaty triumphed at Marseille in February 2004.

After 11 failed attempts earlier in the season, Klizan is the first player to win his maiden ATP World Tour title in 2012. He has dropped just one set throughout the campaign, battling to a three-set win over top seed Mikhail Youzhny in three hours and 49 minutes in Saturday’s semi-final.

Klizan is set to rise to around a career-high World No. 33 in the South African Airways ATP Rankings as a result of his victory, having earned 250 ranking points and $70,365 in prize money. Fognini received 150 ranking points and $37,060.

The third-seeded Klizan showed no ill-effects from his marathon semi-final as he raced to a 4-0 lead to take the first set in his first meeting with the fourth-seeded Fognini. Four service breaks were exchanged at the start of the second set before Klizan took a decisive step in the seventh game. He reeled off the last three games of the match to claim victory in 69 minutes.

"It's always very difficult to play a tournament after Davis Cup," admitted Klizan. "I've played many matches and it was a tough Davis Cup for us, so it was a very, very tough week this one. I was really ‘dead’ yesterday after the match, but I've played really solid this week and I'm very happy to win my first title. I hope I can get more points at the end of this season."

Until two months ago, Klizan had never won back-to-back tour-level matches. However, since the end of July he has reached the semi-finals in Kitzbuhel (l. to Haase), won an ATP Challenger Tour title in San Marino and knocked out World No. 6 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga en route to a fourth-round showing at the US Open (l. to Cilic).

"I said last year that I would like to be Top 100 by the end of this year and I've already done it," said Klizan. "Now I've been Top 50, Top 40, maybe I can be Top 30 at the end of the year. I hope I can be healthy and still with enough power to play until the end of the season. I've played many, many great weeks."

The 25-year-old Fognini was contesting his second ATP World Tour final having also finished runner-up to Gilles Simon at the BRD Nastase Tiriac Trophy in Bucharest. The Italian dropped to a 22-20 match record on the season.

"It's horrible to play a final like this," said Fognini. "I've played two finals this year. Simon in Bucharest was a really great final; we played one hour and 50 minutes and I lost. On the court today he played his best tennis ever and I did not play my best tennis for sure."

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© Neven Gerencir

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