Lopez takes SA Open honours
Feliciano Lopez (Gallo Images)
Johannesburg - Spaniard Feliciano Lopez ended a six-year trophy drought with a 7-5 6-1 triumph over French fighter Stephane Robert in the South African Open final on Sunday.
The only previous ATP title for the 28-year-old native of Toledo who is ranked 39 in the world came in Vienna when he defeated Argentine Guillermo Canas in a five-set thriller.
Lopez, seeded third for this ATP World Tour event, battled to subdue eighth seed Robert in a first set which went with service for 11 games before the Spaniard made a timely breakthrough.
It kept the capacity 3 300 crowd at the Montecasino entertainment centre spellbound for 47 minutes as Lopez held service comfortably while Robert covered kilometres to draw level repeatedly.
But the effort drained the Frenchman, ranked 61 places below Lopez, and he was outclassed in the 21-minute second set, winning just one game while his service was broken twice.
Victory on his first visit to South Africa made Madrid-based Lopez $76 000 richer while the blow of losing was cushioned for Robert by a $40 000 cheque.