Gonzalez downs Robredo to claim China Open crown

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Beijing, Sep 17: Chile's world number seven Fernando Gonzalez survived a mid-match blip to beat Spain's Tommy Robredo 6-1 3-6 6-1 and win his first title for two years at the China open.

The 27-year-old, who came to Beijing on a losing streak that went back to Wimbledon in June, dominated the opening set but gradually let Robredo back into the match and was forced to dig deep to claim the eighth ATP tournament of his career.

''I'm very happy,'' said Gonzalez. ''I played my best tennis for three months. I was dominant from the first ball...I feel a lot better now than I did a week ago.'' In the first set, the second seed showed the kind of form that got him to the Australian Open final in January, unleashing his thunderbolt forehands at will in a display of discipline aggression that completely disarmed Robredo.

The third seed, more at home on clay and playing for his first career hardcourt title, was forced to rethink his strategy and his approaches to the net drew dividends when he twice broke Gonzalez in the second set to even up the contest.

Gonzalez, however, had shown great mental resilience in earlier rounds when his best game was eluding him and yesterday's final was no different.

CLOSE SITUATION

Although clearly deflated by his 25-year-old opponent's fightback, Gonzalez was already having the best of the deciding set when he prevailed in a thrilling game featuring six deuces to take a 3-1 lead.

''It was a close situation,'' said Robredo. ''If it had been 2-2 maybe I would have got the break. But after that he was playing with confidence, hitting harder and harder and getting the ball in.'' Robredo offered only token resistance for the rest of the set and Gonzalez converted his first championship point after an hour and 45 minutes to win his first title since Basel in 2005.

It was Gonzalez's first trip to China but it will not be his last as his victory puts him seventh in the race for the season-ending Masters Cup in Shanghai in November.

''I think I have a really good chance,'' he said. ''It's really tight but I will try my best.'' Even if he does not end the season in the top eight and qualify, the Olympic doubles champion and Athens singles bronze medallist said he would be back for the Beijing Games next August.

''I would be really excited to come back to Beijing,'' he added.

''This win will give me confidence to come back here.'' At 11th in the world, Robredo is outside the top 10 for the first time since May last year but his third appearance in a final this season should get him back among the elite of the men's game.

Reuters
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