It was a weekend of first-time winners on the ATP tour as the unseeded Pablo Andujar and American wildcard Ryan Sweeting both claimed their maiden tour wins.
Unseeded Spaniard Pablo Andujar claimed his first ATP World Tour title after a straight sets victory over Potito Starace at the Grand Prix Hassan II in Casablanca.
Andujar had lost his two previous encounters with the fifth-seeded Starace but never looked like making it an welcome hat-trick with a dominant display. The victory was emphasised by Andujar’s overhead smash to win after just one hour and fourteen minutes.
With most of the big names of the tour not playing ahead of this week’s Monte Carlo Masters, Andujar took full advantage having knocked out his compatriot and top seed Albert Montanes in the semi-final the day before.
The Spaniard was always in control over Starace, winning four of his eight break-points and saved the two he faced himself, coming through 6-1 6-2.
“I was was very confident before the match,” said Andujar when speaking to atpworld.com, “I thought about winning and yesterday’s win gave me a lot of confidence. I played in a way that made him tired, being very aggressive and making him run a lot.”
Ryan Sweeting’s success came on home turf over Japan’s Kei Nishikori at the US Men’s Claycourt Championships.
Sweeting, appearing in his first ATP final, never looked over-awed by the occasion and came through in straight sets 6-4 7-6 (7-3).
The twenty-three year-old thrilled the Houston crowd all week having seen off top seed, compatriot Sam Querrey as well as former champion Ivo Karlovic on his way to victory.
Speaking after his victory, Sweeting emphasised how handling the occasion was a big part of his success.
“I’m most happy about the way I performed under pressure. It was my first final and I felt I stayed calm, I stayed focused.”
“I didn’t let the moment get to me and nerves get to me, which has happened to me in the past before, so I felt that I competed well at an important time in my career.”
Sweeting’s aggression was evident throughout the contest and Nishikori admitted himself that was the difference on the day.
“I was struggling today, messing a lot of easy shots and he was more aggressive than me, so that’s why I was struggling, I guess,” he said.
“It was a final and I really wanted to win today, but I think that made me a little tight.”
The attention will now turn to this week’s Monte Carlo Masters which will not see the end of world number two Novak Djokovic’s unbeaten start to 2011 as the Serbian has a knee injury.