- The Washington Times - Monday, July 14, 2008

From combined dispatches

NEWPORT, R.I. | Second-seeded Fabrice Santoro captured his second straight Hall of Fame Tennis Championships title Sunday, beating Prakash Amritraj 6-3, 7-5 to become the second player since 1990 to win an ATP event after his 35th birthday.

In winning his sixth career title, the 35-year-old Santoro became the oldest player to win the tournament on the International Hall of Fame’s grass courts. Andre Agassi won three events in 2005 when he was 35 years old.

Amritraj, the son for three-time Newport winner Vijay Amritraj and a wild-card entry, was the lowest ranked player to reach a Newport final. India’s Davis Cup member entered the week 305th in the world.

Santoro, who earlier in the week said he likely would cut back his tour play next year, won his 451st match, fourth among active players behind Roger Federer, Carlos Moya and Lleyton Hewitt.

“When you start a career at 16 years old, never, ever can you imagine you’ll win a tournament 20 years later. I played my first French Open in 1989,” Santoro said. “I have the same passion for the game as five, 10, 15 years ago, maybe more.”

He became just the second No. 1 or No. 2 seed to win the finale in the tournament’s 32-year history; Johan Kriek did it in 1981.

Vijay Amritraj, who won 13 titles in 26 career finals, watched his son from behind one of the baselines.

“We talked after the match. He told me my strategy was right, but I just needed to be a little more aggressive,” Prakash said.

After getting broken in the first game of the match, Santoro broke right back en route to winning four straight games. Amritraj’s consecutive unforced errors closed out the second game.

“I think I was broken three times this week, and every time I broke right back,” Santoro said.

Amritraj made three unforced errors in the final game of the opening set before Santoro closed it out with a forehand off a net ball.

Santoro had the only break in the second set, taking a 6-5 lead before hitting a backhand passing shot at 40-love to win the match. He raised both hands in triumph.

“I’m just very happy on the court to have the trophy in my hands,” he said.

Del Potro upsets Gasquet

STUTTGART, Germany | Juan Martin del Potro won his first ATP title, upsetting second-seeded Richard Gasquet 6-4, 7-5 in the clay-court Mercedes Cup final.

The 19-year-old Argentine broke Gasquet for a 5-4 lead in the first set and, after a brief rain delay, broke the Frenchman again to lead 6-5 in the second. Del Potro closed out the victory with a strong serve and a forehand winner off Gasquet’s return.

Along with his first title, del Potro also collected a white convertible presented by the tournament sponsor.

Robredo wins on clay

BASTAD, Sweden | Tommy Robredo defeated Tomas Berdych 6-4, 6-1 to win the clay-court Swedish Open for the second time in three years.

The third-seeded Spaniard outplayed Berdych in the second set, breaking the Czech three times. He faced a break point at 1-1, but Berdych hit a forehand long.

Errani takes first WTA title

PALERMO, Sicily | Sara Errani captured her first WTA Tour singles title when she beat Mariya Koryttseva of Ukraine 6-2, 6-3 in the Palermo International final.

The chair umpire awarded the fifth-seeded Errani an ace on her first match point after going down to check the mark on the red clay court and overruling the linesman’s call.

Cornet captures Budapest

BUDAPEST, Hungary | Alize Cornet of France won the Budapest Grand Prix, defeating Andreja Klepac of Slovenia 7-6 (5), 6-3 for her first victory on the WTA Tour.

Hanescu earns Swiss win

GSTAAD, Switzerland | Victor Hanescu won his first career title with a 6-3, 6-4 victory over Igor Andreev in the Swiss Open final.

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