BASTAD, Sweden (Reuters) - French Open finalist Robin Soderling overcame some second set nerves to beat Argentine Juan Monaco 6-3 7-6 on Sunday, clinching the Swedish Open title and his first ATP win on clay.
“I don’t know what to say...I wouldn’t trade this one for a grand slam,” an emotional Soderling said in an on-court interview.
World number 12 Soderling, whose previous three ATP wins had all come indoors, ended a nine-year drought of Swedish winners here.
Back in 2000, Soderling’s current coach and former world number two Magnus Norman won beating Andreas Vinciguerra, another Swede, in the final.
For a set and a half, Soderling dominated Monaco completely with his heavy groundstrokes. Although a claycourt specialist, Monaco could not cope with the Swede’s higher tempo of play.
But trailing 4-2 in the second set, Monaco gradually found his rhythm and capitalised on some mistakes by Soderling, winning three consecutive games for a 5-4 lead.
In Soderling’s ensuing service game, Monaco earned himself a set point, but the Swede fought it off with an aggressive forehand.
Both players held serves to 6-6 and in the tie-breaker a double-fault and sloppy wide backhand by Monaco helped Soderling take a 6-2 lead. Monaco saved the first two match points, but Soderling clinched it on the third, sealing the tie-break 7-4.
“He (Monaco) began playing really well in the second set. Then when I had a break point for 4-1 and didn’t make it, I got nervous. I tightened up when he started improving.”
It was Soderling’s fourth win in five meetings with Monaco.
Writing by Oliver Grassman in Stockholm; Editing by Nigel Hunt