Del Potro wins Estoril title
Juan Martin del Potro (Associated Press)
Estoril - Argentina's Juan Martin del Potro won his first clay-court tournament in 22 months with a 6-2, 6-2 defeat of Fernando Verdasco at the Estoril Open on Sunday.
The victory was the second of the season for the 2009 US Open champion, who missed 10 months of 2010 as he recovered from surgery on his right wrist.
Del Potro last played on clay at the 2009 French Open but he showed that he had lost none of his touch on the surface.
He claimed his ninth title, from 12 final appearances, to improve his win-loss record for the season to 25-6 and become the first Argentine to win the Estoril title since David Nalbandian in 2006.
"This is a great victory, it's unbelievable to win on clay. It's something I never expected so soon," said the champion.
The big Argentine said that while his wrist is not yet at 100 percent, it is not a bother to him on court.
"It's almost fine, it's getting better. When the weather is humid I feel something, But the doctors say that's normal. It's getting better faster than we expected.
"I've stopped worrying about my injury. It's just a little pain, but it does not stop me wanting to win. That's more important than any pain."
Despite his loss, the week was also a success for Spain's second-seeded Verdasco who had lost in four of his five previous tournaments in opening matches.
The Spaniard is fighting to rescue a ranking which dropped him from the Top 10 to 15th. Sunday's loss left his record in finals at 5-10.
Del Potro dominated in the opening set, winning it in 32 minutes after running away to a 5-1 start.
But Verdasco began to find his range in the second and despite starting it by going down a break managed to keep Del Potro at bay.
The Argentine was tested in the final game, with Verdasco saving a pair of match points and forcing his opponent to salvage a break point.
But del Potro finally took victory on his third winning chance.
"He played better and that is why he beat me by the scoreline today," said Verdasco.
"He played great. I didn't have many chances to put him in trouble. It was hard, he was hitting the ball hard and deep. It was difficult to be offensive. I didn't play my best.
"I hope to finish in the Top 10 at the end of this year. After Roland Garros I will have almost nothing to defend, so I hope to pick up points at Wimbledon and other tournaments."
Both men will travel immediately to Madrid where the Masters 1000 has already started.
Del Potro faces a first-round match with 13th seed Mikhail Youzhny while Verdasco plays as 15th seed with a start against Taiwan's Lu Yen-Hsun.