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Lopez Retains Eastbourne Title

Eastbourne, Great Britain

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Feliciano Lopez has found a new home on the lawns of the Aegon International, completing a successful title defence on Saturday with a 6-3, 6-7(5), 7-5 victory over Richard Gasquet.

Lopez, who defeated another Frenchman in Gilles Simon in last year's final, needed two hours and 13 minutes to deny Gasquet his 11th ATP World Tour crown. The 32 year old claimed his fourth tour-level trophy overall, maintaining a strong run on grass in 2014 that began with an appearance in the final of the Aegon Championships last week (l. to Dimitrov). He is the first player to reach consecutive grass-court finals prior to Wimbledon since 2001, when Lleyton Hewitt and Thomas Johansson both featured in back-to-back title matches on the surface.

The former World No. 15 brings home $77,315 and 250 Emirates ATP Rankings points, becoming the eighth over-30 champion on the ATP World Tour in 2014.

Lopez becomes the second Spanish titlist of the day, following Roberto Bautista Agut’s maiden crown at the Topshelf Open. He is the sixth different man from Spain to win a tour-level title in 2014.

"He beat me five times before, quite a lot," said Lopez, who overturned an 0-5 FedEx ATP Head2Head mark against Gasquet. "I have to be even a little bit more happy, because I knew Richard is going to be so tough to beat today. When a player beats you five times before, you don't know what's going (to happen) and how can you manage the situation to beat him for the first time. And I did. It's a great feeling.

"The way I play here is completely different from when I play on the other surfaces around the world. That's really one of the most important things. Then my attitude was great. I was fighting. Even though I lost the second set, I was (fighting) all the time."

Lopez surged to an early advantage behind a break of serve in the third game, grabbing the first set 6-3. Gasquet would not be deterred, however, drawing level when a Lopez volley found the net at 6-5 in the second set tie-break.

The Frenchman had an opportunity to pull ahead in the second game of the third set, but was unable to convert a break chance. The miss would prove costly as a forehand error gave Lopez the decisive break for 6-5 and he would serve it out for the title.

The Toledo native struck 14 aces and 44 winners, capitalising on four of six break points.

Gasquet, meanwhile, was foiled in his bid for a third Aegon International crown, having triumphed in 2005 (d. Mirnyi) and 2006 (d. Bjorkman) when the event was held in Nottingham.

"[It's] always difficult to lose the final," said Gasquet. "It's always very disappointing, but I try my best. I think on two break points I could do a little bit better, maybe return faster than I did. But it's tennis. I try to fight the best I could.

"Of course it's a tough half an hour after I lose, but of course I will take positives and I try my best next week again."

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