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Stepanek rallies to San Jose victory

RADEK Stepanek shook off a leg injury on his way to a 3-6, 6-4, 6-2 victory over Mardy Fish in the SAP Open final in San Jose, California, on Sunday, the Czech fourth seed picking up his fourth career title with the win.

"Mardy was serving incredibly well and hitting great from the back in the beginning and I didn't have any chances, but I knew that if I held my serve in the second my chances would come again and I would win it in the third," Stepanek told reporters.

After an astounding first set-and-a-half where he dominated on serve and at the net, the American fifth seed came undone after his 30-year-old opponent took a medical timeout while leading 3-2 in the second.

Fish questioned the timing of the intervention and felt that Stepanek was employing gamesmanship.

"I didn't think it was an injury at all," Fish said. "He seemed fine to me. I would have been shocked if I was up a set and he didn't call the trainer. It's par for the course for him. You know what to expect. It's unfortunate."

In the final game of the second set, Stepanek broke when the American missed an easy backhand and Fish never recovered.

His serve kept him in the match at the beginning of the decider but he began to litter the court with unforced errors while the Czech played steady tennis.

Stepanek has had a fine start to the season, posting a 12-2 record and winning titles in Brisbane and San Jose.

"I came here with a lot of confidence. This is my best beginning of a year," the 21st ranked Stepanek said.

In Rotterdam, Briton Andy Murray upset world No. 1 Rafael Nadal 6-3, 4-6, 6-0 in a disappointing ABN Amro final marred by injuries on Sunday.

Murray was less troubled by his ankle problem than Nadal was by his right knee problem after he had a medical timeout three games into the second set.

Both players then dropped serve four times in a row, handing the set to Nadal who could not put any power into his service but refused to give up.

"Thought the first set was very good, I played well and saw nothing on Nadal's movement" Murray said. "But after his timeout he wasn't running anymore and just hitting the ball hard from the baseline."


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