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First Time Winner Spotlight: Pablo Cuevas

Bastad, Sweden

Cuevas© SkiStar Swedish OpenPablo Cuevas is the first Uruguayan singles titlist on the ATP World Tour since 1997.

Uruguay's Pablo Cuevas claimed his first singles title on the ATP World Tour, completing a career-best week with a 6-2, 6-1 rout of Joao Sousa in the SkiStar Swedish Open final. The 28 year old became the third first-time champion of the season, following Federico Delbonis (Sao Paulo) and Roberto Bautista Agut ('s-Hertogenbosch).

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Cuevas, a former World No. 45 and the 2008 Roland Garros doubles champion (w/ Horna), had entered Bastad at No. 111 in the Emirates ATP Rankings and will climb back into the Top 100 with his triumph.

He spoke with ATPWorldTour.com after his victory.

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How does it feel to win your first ATP World Tour title?
Very happy, I've been working a lot and dreaming of winning an ATP tournament. After the injury, I always had in my mind that I could come back to win a tournament and I'm happy for it.

Did you think you'd win your first title at age 28?
As a kid you always dream big. I thought I was going to win before, but after nearly two years without playing, a long time without competition and without the chance of winning something, I'm glad to achieve it now.

You're the first Uruguayan to win an ATP World Tour title since Marcelo Filippini in 1997. How does it feel?
In Uruguay there are very few people and few players, and our references were Diego Perez and Marcelo Filippini. Filippini also won this tournament in Bastad. I'm glad to be another Uruguayan that has won an ATP tournament.

It was your first final in singles. How did you approach the match?
Once I entered the court I was very calm, and after the second or third game I realised what I had to do. I tried to keep my focus only on the tactics and I could do it throughout the game. I'm happy I stayed focused and didn't think about other things.

How do you analyse your week with victories over tough rivals such as Jeremy Chardy and Fernando Verdasco?
It started as a very difficult week. Chardy is a great player with a very dangerous game. That match and today were the best I played. I had a tough match in the second round (vs. Christian Lindell) because I knew it was the last tournament [before entry for] the US Open and had to earn it. With (Renzo) Olivo I had the responsibility and I knew him more. With Verdasco, I played a very long and close match at Roland Garros and I could take revenge for that [defeat]. Today I was very calm and almost perfect.

Did you do anything different this week to win five matches for this title?
I didn't do anything different. I tried to do the same as in other tournaments. Except for the second game, the rest [of the final] I was very calm, not thinking I would win the tournament. Every game was giving me confidence.

How did you get through after being sidelined almost two years?
It was almost two very difficult years, where I had two knee surgeries. I was lucky to get into good hands and everything went well. I had a long recovery, very slow. Luckily the knee isn't giving me problems and I’m glad I kept a strong head after being out for so long, especially because at some point I thought maybe I would not be able to play anymore.

You will be back at Top 100 on the Emirates ATP Ranking. Was it in your plans earlier this year?
I'm very happy this week for the tournament, and also because I'll get near the Top 70. It's a major [hurdle] and it changes a little bit my calendar for the rest of the year. I dreamed of this but knew it would be difficult because when the year started I was not sure about my physical condition. But every week I'm playing I feel good physically and that helped me to believe in myself and I feel very comfortable with my game.

In October 2009 you had your best ranking of No. 45. How do you compare that moment with now?
I was playing my best tennis and I felt great. That motivated me to continue despite the injury. I knew I had more to give. It was the biggest motivation I had to be back where I am today.

Who were your idols as a child?
I didn't have only one. I always admired players with one-handed backhand such as Guga (Gustavo) Kuerten, (Gaston) Gaudio, and I also really liked (Mark) Philippoussis.

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