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Ryan tastes sweet victory in Houston


 

Originally published on: 11/04/11 10:36

Devoid of a player in the top 10 after Andy Roddick’s slip down the rankings, Ryan Sweeting gave American tennis a timely boost after winning the first ATP final of his career at the US Men’s Clay Court Championship in Houston.

The 23-year-old, ranked No.93 prior to the tournament and handed a wildcard entry by organisers, saw off Japenese sixth seed Kei Nishikori 6-4 7-6(3) to win the title after fighting through a testing second set that saw him save three set points in the tenth game.

“That game was very crucial,” Sweeting admitted afterwards. “It definitely wore me out a little bit. I knew that I wanted to try and win the second set, obviously, to win the match, but it was a good hold and I felt that it gave me a little bit of momentum going into the rest of the set.”

Sweeting polished off the win after converting on his third match point, and the 6ft5 Florida native was particularly pleased with his composure in his first final of the year.

“I’m most happy about the way I performed under pressure,” he said. “It was my first final and I felt I stayed calm, I stayed focussed. 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, who rose to No.67 in the ladder after his triumph, had defeated last year’s finalist Sam Querrey in the second round and defending champion Ivo Karlovic in the last four before his win over Nishikori saw him become the first American titlist in Houston since Mardy Fish in 2006.

Nishikori, meanwhile, had hoped to win the title for his country as much as for himself in light of the recent disaster in Japan, but admitted he had failed to find his top level.

“I was struggling today, missing a lot with easy shots and he was more aggressive than me, so that’s why I was struggling, I guess,” conceded the 21-year-old. “It was a final and I really wanted to win today, but I think that made me a little tight.”

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