PORTUGAL OPEN 2014
Berlocq Rallies To Stun Berdych In Oeiras Final
by ATP Staff|
The 31 year old follows in the footsteps of countrymen and former Oeiras champions Juan Martin del Potro (2011-12), David Nalbandian (2002, '06), Gaston Gaudio (2005) and Juan Ignacio Chela (2004), becoming the fifth different Argentine champion in the past decade.
"It's very nice to know Nalbandian, Del Potro and Gaudio won this title and that I join this list," said Berlocq. "It is very special for me to be with such great players."
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Berlocq claimed his second ATP World Tour title, having won his maiden crown at the SkiStar Swedish Open last year (d. Verdasco). He overturned a 0-19 record against Top 10 opponents entering the week, ousting World No. 9 Milos Raonic in the quarter-finals before his upset of Berdych.
The rout was on in the early stages of the final, with Berdych bursting out of the gates for 6-0 lead in just 29 minutes. It was the first bagel set in a tour-level final this year. Berlocq struggled to infiltrate Berdych’s defence, as the Czech won 75 per cent of return points in the opening set and did not face a break point on his own serve.
But Berlocq would not be deterred, snatching an immediate break to open the second set. The lead vacillated between the two competitors, before the former World No. 37 secured a late break for 6-5 and held on to pull even.
"In the second set, when I changed my tactics I saw the ball better, committed less errors and it opened the door," added Berlocq.
Berdych fell behind a double break in the deciding set as the momentum swung firmly in Berlocq's corner. The World No. 6 would be broken on five straight occasions to conclude the match, succumbing on Berlocq's second match point after a netted volley.
The Argentine converted on seven of 10 break point chances in total, prevailing in two hours and nine minutes. He becomes the sixth winner over the age of 30 this year.
Berlocq returns to the Top 50 with the title, earning €77,315 and 250 Emirates ATP Rankings points. "It's a very strong, very beautiful feeling [to win here]," he said. "It was a very special match for me. I didn't have any pressure to win and it's not my culture to conform to expectations.
"To win a title, and against a Top 10 player, carries double merits. To close the match the way I did was very emotional."
Berdych, meanwhile, was denied entry into the 10-title club on the ATP World Tour with the defeat, falling to 9-13 in finals. He was seeking his first clay-court title in five years in just his first trip to Oeiras since 2005. In February, he ended a 16-month title drought at the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament (d. Cilic).
"The first set looks easy, but it doesn't show what was going on," said Berdych. "Carlos is a big fighter and he completely changed his game, finding a way to win."
The 28 year old is the third Czech runner-up in the Portugal Open’s 25-year history. Karel Novacek was a finalist in both 1991 and 1993.