By Luís Santos
Sunny conditions at the Estoril welcomed the men’s singles’ final of the 2011 Estoril Open.
Former US Open champion Juan Martin Del Potro took on number two seed Fernando Verdasco. Del Potro enjoyed a great week before the final having beaten top seed Robin Soderling in straight sets and in-form Pablo Cuevas also in two sets. Verdasco had a busy day prior to the final having to play both the quarterfinal match and the semifinal. He ended up powering past Kevin Anderson and Milos Raonic, respectively.
All was set for a competitive final, but after three breaks of serve early in the first set, Del Potro’s massive forehand found no match from Verdasco. The Spaniard struggled to get into the match and despite breaking to love to level the first set 1-1, errors crept into his game.
“I think he just played too good after that and there wasn’t much I could do. He’s a player that when he’s on he hits the ball very hard and it’s difficult to counter that. He played very well today and I didn’t have a great day. He didn’t let me play my game.” Verdasco explained.
“I’m happy to have reached the final but there’s always a bittersweet taste when you lose it. It’s best to lose in the final than before it, so you need to stay positive.”
On his goals for the rest of the season and his ranking, Verdasco said: “I expect to finish at least in the same position as like the last two seasons. The good thing is that after Roland Garros I have nothing to defend so I’ll try to come back to the top ten. The year is so long, I hope to play my best and get good results.”
Del Potro quickly claimed the first set 6-2 in just 32 minutes as Verdasco held just once.
The Argentinian broke right at the start of the second set as Verdasco kept making errors. The Spaniard held for the second time to make it 2-1 but again it wasn’t enough and Del Potro readily powered his way to a 5-2 lead. A highly contested last game saw Verdasco grasp a breakpoint that was quickly eliminated with a crosscourt backhand winner from the number eight seed. Fittingly enough Del Potro closed out the match on his third match point after yet another massive forehand.
Of winning today’s match: “I think it may well be my best match of the week. Fernando is tough to beat but today I won and I played a really nice tennis so.” “I served well and took all my opportunities especially in the breakpoints.”
It was Del Potro’s ninth title and second this year after having won in Delray Beach.
When comparing his form with Delray Beach: “I think I’m better now. I’m getting better day by day. I’m getting ready for the second part of the season so I can beat the better players.”
Of the upcoming second Grand Slam and his goals for the rest of the season: “No, I’m far from being a favorite for Roland Garros. I’m surprised to have won here because I hadn’t played in clay for a long time. The biggest candidate if of course Rafa and then there’s Ferrer, Federer and Djokovic.”
“My first goal is to remain healthy and keep improving. I haven’t established ranking goals. I want to keep enjoying the tennis life, I missed it a lot when I was home injured.”