Ferrer pummels Gasquet to win Japan Open

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TOKYO, Oct 7 (Reuters) Spain's David Ferrer pummelled Frenchman Richard Gasquet 6-1 6-2 to win the Japan Open title today.

The top seed, a late replacement for Roger Federer following the world number one's late pullout, totally dominated and needed just 52 minutes to wrap up his fifth career title.

Ferrer won 145,000 dollar and became the first Spaniard since Manuel Orantes in 1977 to win the Tokyo title.

''There are so many great names on this trophy,'' a beaming Ferrer told reporters. ''Now it says 'Ferrer' on it. Maybe I'm the worst player on this trophy!'' Ferrer raced through the first set in 21 minutes, playing near-perfect tennis, sealing it with a ferocious backhand pass that fizzed past Gasquet's racquet.

A dejected Gasquet trudged back to his chair and the third seed fared little better in the second set despite encouragement from a Tokyo crowd keen to get their money's worth.

Ferrer, playing his first tournament since reaching the semi-finals of the U.S. Open, broke for 2-0 with a blistering forehand and never looked like losing his grip on the match.

The 25-year-old wrapped up his third title of 2007 on his first match point, ending Gasquet's bid for back-to-back titles after his victory in Mumbai last week.

''It's very special,'' said Ferrer. ''Not because Federer won last year but because it's on a hardcourt. My surface is clay and this is only my second hardcourt title (after Auckland).

''To win in Tokyo is special because it's a big tournament -- bigger than Auckland.'' Gasquet blamed fatigue for his sluggish performance and jokingly said he regretted not staying up until the early hours to watch France beat New Zealand at the rugby World Cup.

''I played 10 matches in two weeks -- it was a bit too much for me,'' said the Wimbledon semi-finalist. ''I was feeling tired and it was just too difficult.'' ''I knew the rugby was on at the TV at 4 a.m. in my hotel but I had to sleep,'' he added with a sheepish grin. ''If I had known I was going to lose 6-1 6-2 I would definitely have watched it.'' REUTERS BJR PM1232

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