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Volandri Captures ATP Challenger Tour Finals Crown With Comeback Win

Sao Paulo, Brazil

Filippo Volandri© Agência InovafotoFilippo Volandri captured his 12th title on the ATP Challenger Tour, defeating Alejandro Gonzalez in three sets in Sao Paulo.

No. 2 seed Filippo Volandri denied Alejandro Gonzalez an undefeated finish to the ATP Challenger Tour Finals, exacting revenge on the Colombian 4-6, 6-4, 6-2 to claim the title on Sunday.

A rematch of Wednesday’s round-robin encounter in Sao Paulo, won by Gonzalez 6-3, 6-3, Volandri would prevail in one hour and 52 minutes. The Italian recovered from an early deficit to win his 12th crown on the Challenger circuit, becoming the ninth active player to accomplish the feat.

"I want to congratulate Gonzalez on the tournament," said Volandri. "It was a great final and a very special moment for me. I'm getting older and I can't miss these opportunities. I know that Gonzalez will have many other opportunities to win titles."

Volandri demonstrated exceptional resolve after being broken for the first set. The 32 year old erased three set points, while serving down 5-4, but Gonzalez converted on his fourth to grab the opener.

The formidable Italian would remain composed, breaking immediately to take the early initiative in the second set. Volandri dictated with his backhand throughout, gaining traction in baseline rallies as the match wore on and taking advantage of Gonzalez’s retreated court position for multiple drop shot winners. 

As the Colombian’s unforced error count began to rise, Volandri remained steady in the deciding set, breaking to love for a 2-1 lead and never looking back. The 6’ Livorno native would secure a second break for 4-1 and cruise to the finish line, converting on match point when a Gonzalez backhand return sailed long.

"Day by day I was playing better and today was quite different from Saturday. With no sun today, the ball wasn't as fast as it was the first day [against Gonzalez], so it was good for me and I took my chances."

Whereas Gonzalez had denied all nine break point opportunities faced in their round-robin meeting on Wednesday, Volandri capitalised on his chances in the rematch, converting on seven of eight break points garnered.

"Volandri is an amazing player," said Gonzalez. "He deserved this title. For me, it was a great week. I'm happy to reach the final and also for the entire season this year."

The former World No. 25 earns $84,900 with the title and adds 110 points, vaulting him inside the Top 70 of the Emirates ATP Rankings for the first time since April of last year. Gonzalez, meanwhile, receives $46,200 for his run to the final. The Medellin native became just the sixth Colombian-born player to crack the Top 100 earlier in the week.

"After reaching the Top 100, I feel that I have more responsibilities," added Gonzalez. "From now on, I have to work harder and keep on rising in the circuit. I know that I can go far."

Volandri concludes his 2013 ATP Challenger Tour campaign on a 29-6 run since mid-July. His three titles are a career-high in a single season, having also hoisted the trophies in Milan and Orbetello. 

This was the third edition of the ATP Challenger Tour Finals and first on the clay of the Sociedade Harmonia de Tenis. The year-end championships were held on indoor hard in 2011 and 2012, with Cedrik-Marcel Stebe and Guido Pella claiming victory.

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