Garcia-Lopez wins in Thailand
Guillermo Garcia-Lopez (AFP)
Nonthaburi - Spain's Guillermo Garcia-Lopez won the Thailand Open and the second title of his career Sunday, beating Jarkko Nieminen 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 in the final.
The 53rd-ranked Spaniard rode the momentum of his stunning upset over top-ranked Rafael Nadal in the semifinals when he became only the seventh player this year to beat Nadal, a nine-time Grand Slam winner who was fresh from his U.S. Open victory.
Garcia-Lopez applied the same steely nerves as he outserved and outwitted his 60th-ranked Finnish opponent in three closely matched sets, clinching the title on his fourth match point and dropping to the ground to kiss the court.
It was the first time a Thailand Open final featured two unseeded players.
The first set started slowly going back-and-forth on serve until the seventh game when Garcia-Lopez made the first break, dashing up to the net for a backhand dropshot to take a 4-3 lead.
The Spaniard held in the next game and edged to 5-3, saving a break point as Nieminen unravelled and yelled at himself on errors. Nieminen held serve, but Garcia-Lopez saved four more break points in the next game and served out the set with an ace.
The left-handed Finn fought back in the next set, taking the first three games and repeatedly whipping out strong serves and forehand winners down the line. He needed only 32 minutes to wrap up the second set.
"I came back but he lifted his game in the third set," Nieminen said. "I tried everything but it wasn't good enough today."
Garcia-Lopez took a 3-1 lead in the third set and then lost his rhythm but leveled at 4-4 and held serve to make it 5-4. He claimed the championship point with a forehand winner on his fourth match point.
The Spaniard's only previous ATP Tour title came in 2009 in Kitzbuehel.