DUBAI (Reuters) - American Andy Roddick beat unseeded Spaniard Feliciano Lopez 6-7 6-4 6-2 in a pulsating match to win the Dubai Championships on Saturday.
Sixth-seeded Roddick secured his 25th career title and second of the year after his success in San Jose last month.
The first American to reach the final, he was in the event for the first time and beat world number two Rafael Nadal in the last eight and number three Novak Djokovic in the semis.
“I’m excited,” said Roddick. “I stated a couple of weeks ago that a big part of my decision to come here was to try to get a shot at the top players and I was able to do that, and success here has made it look like it was a good idea.
“I’m just happy to be playing really good tennis right now,” added the American who did not drop his serve in the tournament. Roddick did not face a break point in the final and his 22 aces in the match brought his total for the week to 84.
He had the chance to earn two break points in the opening game but put an easy volley wide. He then fought off break point at 1-0 and two more at 4-3 as the set moved towards a tiebreak.
Roddick’s ninth ace earned him a set point at 7-6 in the tiebreak but it was Lopez who took the set when the American sent a return long on the Spaniard’s third set point.
Lopez, who matched Roddick in aces and with his readiness to attack the net giving him the edge, held the opening game of the second set by firing down three consecutive aces.
But just when he appeared capable of going on to claim the match, the Spaniard self-destructed when he netted a backhand volley and double-faulted to hand Roddick a break for 5-4.
The grateful American served out the set to love then broke for 1-0 in the third when Lopez netted another backhand volley.
From then on Roddick looked the likely winner and a further break for 5-2 when he forced an error from Lopez at the net left him serving for the title after just under two hours.
Roddick was unconcerned despite a tight second set.
“The whole time I felt like I was playing well,” he told reporters. “It’s not like I’m down a set and it’s 4-4 and I’m really struggling to -hit the ball.
“I don’t think I missed a ball in the tiebreak but I lost it, obviously not making a return (on the final set point).
“He was playing too good but I find if you put enough pressure on someone sometimes they crack, and he did in the second set. Then in the third set I played very well.
Lopez was attempting to become the fourth Spanish player to win the tournament in its 16-year history after Alex Corretja in 1998, Juan Carlos Ferrero in 2001 and Rafael Nadal in 2006.
“I’m very disappointed,” he said. “I played almost perfect the first two sets. Two mistakes at 4-4 cost me the second set, then in the third I was feeling a little bit tired.
“He was returning my serve much better and playing better from the baseline, so it was tough for me to win the points.
“But I beat three top 10 players, which is unusual in one week, and I’m so happy with my game this week. Hopefully, this is going to help me out for the rest of the season.”
Editing by Ken Ferris and Pritha Sarkar