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Rediff.com  » Sports » Gonzalez fights back to take Basel title

Gonzalez fights back to take Basel title

October 31, 2005 13:34 IST

Chile's Fernando Gonzalez won his third title of the year on Sunday after coming from behind to beat Cypriot qualifier Marcos Baghdatis 6-7, 6-3, 7-5, 6-4 at the Swiss Indoors.

Gonzalez's first indoor crown increased his career haul to seven titles and kept alive his chances of qualifying for next month's season-ending Masters Cup in Shanghai.

"I was really lucky this week because my tennis was unbelievable and because Roger Federer wasn't here," Gonzalez told the Swiss crowd in reference to the world number one's late withdrawal from his home tournament.

"I haven't even looked at how many (Masters Cup qualifying) points I have. All I know is I have a chance to make Shanghai so I'm just going to concentrate on my tennis."

With only next week's Masters Series tournament in Paris remaining before the elite eight-man competition, Gonzalez is one of nine players still in with a chance of grabbing either of the last two places left for the lucrative finale.

Federer, Rafael Nadal, Andy Roddick, Lleyton Hewitt, Marat Safin and Andre Agassi have already made sure of their spots -- although Federer, Nadal, Hewitt and Safin are all still doubtful with injuries.

If all four recover in time, Gonzalez will need a win in Paris to guarantee a place in Shanghai.

FIRST QUALIFIER

The Chilean will at least be boosted by his form in Basel, having also pulled off wins over Slovakian fifth seed Dominik Hrbaty and rising British teenager Andy Murray en route to Sunday's final.

"(Baghdatis) played great today but after playing two more matches than me in qualifying, maybe he was a little more tired," said the world number 17 following Sunday's three-hour encounter.

Looking to become the first qualifier in more than a year to win an ATP title, the world number 85 seemed to suffer as the match wore on.

He allowed the hard-hitting Gonzalez to break late in the second set and again early in the third.

After calling for treatment on his left thigh, Baghdatis somehow managed to get back on level terms before Gonzalez finally took control by breaking again.

The Chilean seized the decisive break in the first game of the fourth set.

With the support of most of the crowd behind him, the Cypriot successfully defended one match point on Gonzalez's serve, only for the Chilean to wrap things up with an ace.

"I had some pain throughout the week and today it came down to the knee," Baghdatis told reporters. "But it wasn't why I lost.

"At times it was like he had me by the throat, so I just told myself to have fun and try to fight back. But in the end he managed to take his chances and I didn't."

A winner of the Australian Open boys crown in 2003, the former junior number one has had to contend with two lengthy injury layoffs as he attempts to rise through the senior ranks.

The 20-year-old feels his run in Basel should at last give him the confidence he needs to make his mark.

"Now I can hold my head up high," the Cypriot insisted on Sunday, "because I know if I continue in this spirit I will have many more moments like this."
Mark Ledsom
Source:
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