Lopez claims SA crown
Feliciano Lopez defeated surprise finalist Stephane Robert 7-5 6-1 to win the SA Tennis Open in Johannesburg.
Last Updated: 07/02/10 4:39pm
Feliciano Lopez comfortably overcame first-time ATP Tour finalist Stephane Robert 7-5 6-1 to win the SA Tennis Open in Johannesburg.
The number three seed edged out Gael Monfils in a third-set tie-break to reach Sunday's final but had no such difficulties with 29-year-old Frenchman Robert.
Lopez passed-up eight break point opportunities in the first set before finally securing the advantage at the last opportunity.
The Spaniard did not look back as Robert, feeling the effects of his efforts to stay in the first set, was steamrollered in the second.
The eighth seed won only 11 points and one game as he was eventually brushed aside in a total of one hour and 13 minutes.
It is Lopez's first Tour win since he defeated Guillermo Canas in the final at Vienna in October 2004.
"I had everything to lose and Stephane had nothing to lose so it is a great feeling to succeed," Lopez said after the match.
"Some missed opportunities in the first set angered me, but it all came together in the end.
"The support for me here, so many thousands of kilometres from home, was amazing.
"Stephane made a great effort and he is a fighter who will continue to be among the top 100 tennis players in the world for a long time if he continues to play like today."
Robert admitted that he had been beaten by the better player but remained optimistic about his chances in future ATP events.
He said: "Feliciano was better today with his unbelievable service and I lacked confidence, but this has been an amazing week for me.
"I received many messages of support from my area and club and I look ahead with great hope.
"I am known as a clay court player but now I believe I can also do well on hard courts at altitude."