BARCELONA: Spain’s fifth seed Fernando Verdasco defeated Swedish Robin Soderling 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 to keep the Barcelona clay court title at home for the eighth straight year.
Two hours and three minutes was the time it took for Soderling’s dream to clinch his country’s first title in Barcelona since Ken Carlsson more than two decades ago, came to an end. The Spaniard inspired an impressive performance with breaks of the Swede’s last two service games in the opening set to win it after 38 minutes. Soderling returned fire by taking the second after losing an early break but Verdasco dominated in the third to claim the heartfelt win. “Winning here is just unbelievable,” said Verdasco.
“I wasn’t originally going to play this week but I got a wild card and here I am.” It’s taken Verdasco seven years to reach his first Barcelona final after stalling before the quarterfinal stage five times. Victory marked the second trophy this season for the ninth-ranked Verdasco, who was beaten a week ago for the Monte Carlo title by Rafael Nadal but won indoors in San Jose.
Verdasco followed on from compatriots Carlos Moya, Tommy Robredo and Nadal in the five years following as he kept the cup firmly in Iberian hands. The last non-Spaniard to win the title was Argentine Gaston Gaudio in 2002. Spain has put a player into 14 straight finals at the club since 1997.