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2013's First Time Winners: Part 2

Best of 2013

Fognini© AFP/Getty ImagesFabio Fognini earned his first ATP World Tour title in Stuttgart.

Eight players on the ATP World Tour earned their first titles in 2013. At the time of their victories, they ranged in age from 20 to 31. Below are stories of four of those men and how they fared for the rest of the season.

Read: 2013's First-Time Winners - Part 1

Carlos Berlocq – Bastad [Berlocq Spotlight]
Argentine Carlos Berlocq became the fifth first-time winner of an ATP World Tour title in 2013 after he beat Spain's Fernando Verdasco 7-5, 6-1 to take the SkiStar Swedish Open. The victory in Bastad, which took one hour and 38 minutes, also made Berlocq the ninth 30-and-over winner of the season.

“Experience helps a lot to win an ATP World Tour title,” said Berlocq. “After so many years of competition and playing at this level, you just need the right time to make it... I think perseverance helps. I went through hard times, but I kept working hard and finally I did it. You have to never give up. It was my dream week.”

Berlocq sits with three of his countrymen in the winners’ circle for 2013: Juan Martin del Potro (Rotterdam, Washington, Tokyo, Basel), Juan Monaco (Dusseldorf) and Horacio Zeballos (Vina del Mar).

Fabio Fognini – Stuttgart [Fognini Spotlight]
Fabio Fognini captured his first ATP World Tour title at the MercedesCup with a 5-7, 6-4, 6-4 win over Germany's Philipp Kohlschreiber. This was the Italian's third appearance in a final. Fognini held on in the match that lasted two hours and seven minutes. "I just thought about my serve and playing solid. This gave me a lot of confidence," said the 26 year old. "I will never forget my first title.

“My family is my greatest supporters. My father, mother, sister and now my girlfriend, thanks for everyone. Thanks to my coach [Jose Perlas] and physio, who have worked hard with me over the past two years.”

Winning €74,000 in prize money and a brand new white Mercedes-Benz A 45 AMG, ‘Edition 1’ car was not enough for Fognini, who went on to take another title, in Hamburg, and then reached the Umag final (l. to Robredo) - all in consecutive weeks. The 13-match winning streak helped the Italian finish the year as No. 16 in the Emirates ATP Rankings.

Joao Sousa – Kuala Lumpur [Sousa Spotlight]
Joao Sousa became the first Portuguese player to win an ATP World Tour singles title after beating Julien Benneteau 2-6, 7-5, 6-4 at the Malaysian Open in Kuala Lumpur. Sousa saved a match point while serving at 30-40, trailing 2-6, 4-5.

Sousa's breakthrough week also included upsets of top seed David Ferrer in the quarter-finals and fourth seed Jurgen Melzer in the semi-finals.

"It’s just a dream come true. It’s just amazing winning," said Sousa. "Winning an ATP World Tour title is one of my dreams. Actually I’m the first Portuguese player to win one. It’s good for me and good for my country. People can start to know Portuguese tennis and I think that’s great."

Sousa reached a career-high No. 47 in the Emirates ATP Rankings in the weeks after this victory. He finished the season in the 49th position and as the highest-ranked Portuguese player.

Grigor Dimitrov – Stockholm [Dimitrov Spotlight]
The eighth and final first-time winner of the 2013 season emerged at the If Stockholm Open when Grigor Dimitrov stunned Spain's David Ferrer 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 in the final. Dimitrov became the first Bulgarian to win an ATP World Tour title in the Open Era.

“[The title is] big not only for me but also for the country,” said Dimitrov after the match. “They need to see that everyone can succeed. I am happy that I could achieve something like that. I hope that people in Bulgaria appreciate [my win] and that it's going to motivate little kids and people in the clubs to work harder.”

Dimitrov credited some of his success to a partnership with coach Roger Rasheed that began just before the event. “[He was] doing a lot of things for me,” said Dimitrov. “I think that when you are really organised and have good structure around you, it helps a lot.”

The 22 year old also reached the final in Brisbane (l. to Murray), the semi-finals in Rotterdam (l. to del Potro) and Bastad (l. to Verdasco).

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