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Roddick ends Stepanek run

AMERICAN top seed Andy Roddick claimed his first title of the season and a measure of revenge with a 7-5, 7-5 victory over Czech Radek Stepanek in the final of the Memphis Championships on Sunday.

Roddick, who lost to Stepanek in the semifinals of the San Jose Open last week, ended his opponent's bid for back-to-back titles when he converted on his second match point to clinch a 27th career title.

"A week ago (in San Jose) I felt like I was in control of the match but he played better when it counted on the big points," Roddick said. "I played better today on the big points.

"Right now I'm looking at it as a process and it's great to win a title.

"It's nice to get it out of the way before it becomes an issue."

Memphis champion in 2002 and runner-up in 2003 and 2007, Roddick got off to bright start with an early break to race 3-0 ahead on his way to securing the opening set, the first taken from Stepanek all week.

In the second set, both players held serve throughout, Roddick saving two break points at 15-40 in the ninth game and one more break point in the 11th game with one of his eight aces.

Leading 6-5 and Stepanek serving to stay in the match, Roddick set up a triple match point and while the fifth seed was able to stave off the first, the 26-year-old American sealed victory on his next attempt.

"I had some break chances in the second set and couldn't convert and that was the difference," said Stepanek. "His game is based around his serve and he served really well when he had to..

"We had a great match and a lot of good rallies. The only difference was break points and I couldn't convert when I had chances."

Roddick confirmed on Friday that he wouldn't defend his title at Dubai. He said he wasn't happy about the denial of a visa to Israeli player Shahar Peer by the United Arab Emirates for the women's event this week.

But Roddick read a report that a hernia was his reason for withdrawing.

"There's no other reason. Obviously, I don't have a hernia. I probably wouldn't have played too well today. I would ask you guys to check but that might be inappropriate. I'm 100 percent healthy," Roddick said.

In Marseille, France, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga won his second ATP title of the season, beating Michael Llodra 7-5, 7-6 (3) on Sunday in an all-French final at the Open 13.

Tsonga also won the SA Open in Johannesburg two weeks ago.

"I'm really happy to have won, especially since I was about not to come," Tsonga said. "My dad underwent surgery five days ago. I dedicate this victory to him. He may be listening from his hospital bed. I give him big kisses."

The 12th-ranked Tsonga clinched the match with an ace in the tiebreaker after Llodra double-faulted and missed a routine smash.

"It was really close," said Llodra, who needed a massage on his left shoulder. "But I did not land enough first serves to trouble him."


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