Barcelona Open is a victory for Verdasco

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Barcelona Open is a victory for Verdasco

BARCELONA, Spain - Fernando Verdasco beat Robin Soderling of Sweden 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 to win the Barcelona Open on Sunday. Verdasco ensured an eighth straight Spanish winner at Godo after bettering the second-seeded Soderling in a battle of baseline ground strokes.

Fifth-seeded Verdasco broke Soderling on consecutive service games to take the first set before faltering in the second to even the match. Verdasco scored the decisive break in the fourth game of the last set when Soderling hit wide. Verdasco served out the match for his second title of the season in his third final appearance. He dropped to the red clay to savor a win that came only after the Spaniard accepted a last-minute wild-card invitation.

“I wasn’t planning to play this week so you can imagine my feelings right now. It’s incredible,” the ninth-ranked Verdasco said after improving his overall record in finals to 5-7 while snapping a four-match losing streak to Soderling.

“At the last minute they convinced me to come and now I’m lifting the trophy, so thanks to all of them.”

Verdasco’s clay court season started with last week’s Monte-Carlo Masters final loss to Rafael Nadal, who had won the last five Barcelona Opens. Verdasco stroked a crosscourt forehand winner for a triple-break chance that he would convert for a 4-3 lead when Soderling’s forehand hit the net.

Verdasco clinched the opening set on his fourth try as he worked Soderling wide before slamming a forehand winner down the line as the Swede, who had 15 unforced errors in the first frame, dropped a set for the first time all week.

Soderling failed to create a break opportunity against Verdasco until the opening service game of the second set as he went ahead from a triple-break chance when Verdasco hit long. Verdasco broke right back to even it, but would then trail 4-3 after sending his backhand into the net to be broken.

Neither player ventured to the net often but Soderling did to clinch the second set as he guided Verdasco’s return to the far corner to even the match. Trailing 2-1, Soderling came forward to try a backhand smash but instead found the net. Verdasco was undone by a bad bounce off the net on the first break chance but was vindicated immediately after as Soderling hit wide to trail.

Neither player dropped serve after that and Verdasco secured his second title of season and a 286,000 euro ($383,000) paycheck when Soderling hit out. The eighth-ranked Soderling was looking to be the first Swede to win in Barcelona since Kent Carlsson. He fell to 5-8 in career finals.

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