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Verdasco Beats Almagro To Win Houston Title

Houston, U.S.A.

Verdasco © Aaron M. Sprecher/ROCCFernando Verdasco wins his first title in four years.

Fernando Verdasco made it seventh time lucky on Sunday at the Fayez Sarofim & Co. U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championship in Houston, ending a six-match losing streak in ATP World Tour finals. He defeated fellow Spaniard Nicolas Almagro 6-3, 7-6(4) to win his first singles title since 2010 in Barcelona.

"It’s been a long time since I’ve won a singles title," he said. "It’s a very important day for me to win a tournament after a few years, and after the injury in my knee the last couple years, not feeling so well and not being able to play a few matches in a row feeling well. I’m so happy for everything in general."

Verdasco improved to 6-13 in finals with his fourth title on clay, while Almagro dropped his fourth straight final to fall to a 12-9 mark. Almagro also finished runner-up to John Isner last year in Houston.

Watch Victory Celebration

The fourth-seeded Verdasco claimed the only break of the opening set, and had a chance to go up early in the second but was unable to capitalise on four break point chances before the third-seeded Almagro opened up a 3-1 lead. Verdasco got back on serve in the seventh game and survived a tense game at 4-5, fighting off five set points for Almagro. He closed out the victory in the tie-break after one hour and 52 minutes, improving to a 7-3 FedEx ATP Head2Head record against his countryman.

"He played a really good match today, and he’s the winner," said Almagro. "It was a battle today, and he was really concentrated on his serve. I had many chances and I didn’t [take them], and that’s the key of the match."

Verdasco, partnering David Marrero, also competed in the doubles final this week. The reigning Barclays ATP World Tour Finals champions fell to top-seeded Americans Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan 11-9 in the Match Tie-break on Saturday.

"I’ve been happy the way I’ve been feeling the whole week," said Verdasco. "In general, I think I had ups and downs, but it’s normal. In tough matches in clay you are not always 100 per cent every point physically, and you just need to try to be tough mentally.

"I think the key was my mentality during the week. I kept going every point no matter how tired or how good I was feeling. Didn’t finish perfect since we lost yesterday the doubles final when we were close to win, but it was great that I’m able to win the singles title."

Verdasco became the fifth over-30 winner on the ATP World Tour this year. Earlier Sunday, fellow 30 year old Guillermo Garcia-Lopez also ended a four-year title drought with victory over Marcel Granollers in an all-Spanish final in Casablanca.

Verdasco earned $85,900 and 250 Emirates ATP Rankings points with his triumph, while Almagro took home $45,245 and 150 points.

Both players will look to carry their clay-court form into the upcoming week's Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters. Verdasco has been drawn to face Croatian Marin Cilic in the first round, while the 15th-seeded Almagro plays his opener against French qualifier Paul-Henri Mathieu.

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