Date : September 29, 2013
JOAO SOUSA FIGHTS BACK TO BECOME FIRST PORTUGUESE TO WIN AN ATP TOUR TITLE

 

 

 

In a nerve-wracking match lasting two hours and 18 minutes, Portugal’s Joao Sousa won his maiden ATP title as he surged from a set down to defeat fifth seeded Frenchman Julien Benneteau 2-6, 7-5, 6-4 in the finals of the Malaysian Open, Kuala Lumpur 2013 here at the Putra Stadium in Bukit Jalil today.

 

Currently ranked at no. 77 (although his ranking is set to rise dramatically after this win), the in-from 24-year-old, who beat world no. 4 David Ferrer in the quarterfinals, also became the first player from his country to win a title on the tour.

 

The win did not come easy, as the top Portuguese struggled to find the rhythm and form he had shown earlier in the tournament, allowing his higher ranked world no.33 French opponent to break him in the sixth and eighth games to take the opener.

 

The trend continued in the second set as Sousa struggled to match the powerful forehand of his 31-year-old opponent and when Benneteau held match point against Sousa’s serve in the tenth game, the crowd could have been forgiven for thinking that it was finally time for the Frenchman’s first title in his ninth attempt in a final.

 

In an astonishing  twist, a resurgent Sousa, fired up by a vocal Portuguese contingent, not only saved the match point with an stunning forehand down the line but went on to immediately break his opponent for the first time in the match to force a pulsating decider.

 

In the final set, Sousa ultimately displayed the kind of tennis that saw him beat Ferrer on Friday, breaking his opponent in the very first game and crucially saving four break points en route to his historic triumph.

 

“I just feel great. I don't realize, actually, what I just did out there but I just feel great. I mean, I'm so tired mentally and physically but I just feel amazing. It's just a dream come true, winning my first title here in Malaysia. The crowd was unbelievable, for him and for me, they were chanting every time, I think it was a great final to see, and I'm really happy to win this title,” said an exuberant Sousa, who will collect USD$158,000 for his win.

 

Asked how he felt when he faced match point against his serve in the second set, the Portuguese replied: “I just gave my best and it was a tough, tough shot there. I just went for it, and it went in. It could be out, and he would win it. But tennis is like this, if you don't go for it, you will never make it. So I just went for it, and I think I deserve it.”

 

“There's not much to say. I tried everything today. I was leading, I played very well. Tactically, I was very good, and I didn't let him play during two sets almost, and he held serve in the second set… it's tough because I was leading the match, but this is tennis. You have to win some key points, not every point,” said a dejected Benneteau, who is the highest ranked player on tour to have never won a title.

 

FIRST TIME PARTNERS BUTORAC AND KLAASEN LIFT MALAYSIAN OPEN DOUBLES CROWN

 

American Eric Butorac won his second doubles title here at the Malaysian Open after he and partner Raven Klaasen of South Africa defeated 2013 Roland Garros semifinalists Pablo Cuevas of Uruguay and Argentinian Horacio Zeballos 6-2, 6-4 in 56 minutes on Centre Court.

 

Butorac, who has won 13 career doubles titles (including the Malaysian Open in 2011 with partner Jean-Julien Rojer), and Klaasen, who has won two, broke in the first game to set the tone for a straightforward opener, winning 81% of their first serve and 100% of their second service points in a dominant display.

 

The reverse happened early in the second, when Cuevas and Zeballos (who have six career titles between them) capitalized on a dip in their opponents serving form to break in the second game and race to a 3-0 lead, but the American-South African duo came back strongly, with Klaasen especially devastating at the net, to wrap up victory in straight sets.

 

The 32-year-old Butorac and 30-year-old Klaasen have never played doubles together before but after their impressive and effective performance here at the Malaysian Open, they plan to continue as partners for the rest of the season and perhaps even the next.

 

“It feels great. Anytime you’re playing on Sunday, you know it’s been a great week and I thought from the first practice until the final match, I thought we had a really great week together,” said a smiling Butorac.

 

“It was a great week for us here you know. I arrived late here in Malaysia and fortunately Eric had played well here before so that settled me down a little bit. I felt that we got stronger every match and the crowd here today really showed up and made it fun out there for us,” said his South African partner.

 

The Malaysian Open, Kuala Lumpur is sanctioned by the Lawn Tennis Association of Malaysia. In addition to the distinguished support of the Ministry of Tourism and Culture, Malaysia and Tourism Malaysia, the event is proud to have prestigious commercial sponsors that include Rado, CNN International, the DoubleTree by Hilton Kuala Lumpur, Wilson, 100 Plus, the Albukhary Foundation, Astro, the ATP World Tour’s Premier Partner Corona, and Platinum Partner Ricoh.

 

For more information on the tournament, visit www.MalaysianOpenTennis.com

 

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Local Media Director, Malaysia, Mr. Ghaz Ramli : ghazoo21@gmail.com ; 011-3305 4285

 

About the Malaysian Open, Kuala Lumpur
Please visit: www.MalaysianOpenTennis.com

 

About Malaysia
Please visit: www.tourism.gov.my

 

About IMG
Please visit: www.img.com

 

About the ATP World Tour
Please visit: www.ATPWorldTour.com

 

 

 

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