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August 31, 2009

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Verdasco takes hard-court title

SPAIN'S Fernando Verdasco won the first ATP hard-court title of his career with a 6-4, 7-6 victory over American Sam Querrey in the New Haven Open on Saturday, just hours after he had won his semifinal.

The 25-year-old second seed had earlier dispatched Igor Andreev of Russia 7-6, 7-6 in his semifinal to advance to the final against sixth-seeded Querrey in New Haven, Connecticut.

The American had beaten Jose Acasuso of Argentina 6-3, 6-4.

Both had won their semifinals indoors before returning for the final four hours later.

Verdasco needed only 32 minutes to dispatch Querrey in the first set, and while he held a 4-2 lead in the second, the tall American fought back to break the Spaniard in the eighth game and force a tie-break.

"The second set was a little bit strange because I was 4-2 up, playing good," Verdasco said.

"He started playing much better; I started playing a little bit worse," Verdasco said. "I don't know how I turned it around again, with 6-3 down in the tie-break."

Denmark's Caroline Wozniacki became the first woman since Venus Williams in 2002 to retain the women's title, defeating Russian Elena Vesnina 6-2, 6-4.

"It was different (to last year)," Wozniacki said.

"I mean, the last year was my second final and my second tournament win. It was something new. I never tried before. This year it was already my seventh final."

Meanwhile, Britain's Andy Murray believes he is a much better player this year as he prepared for the US Open, which starts today.

"I feel like I'm playing a lot better," he said on Saturday, two days before play begins at the year's last Grand Slam.

"My consistency has been a lot better, and physically I feel stronger than I was last year in terms of natural parts of my game. There's not one thing I would take out that's got a lot, lot better, but I think everything's just got that little bit better - and that's the difference when you get close to the top."

Murray is as close to the top as you can get: He has moved up to No. 2 in the ATP rankings, overtaking Rafael Nadal.

What the 22-year-old from Scotland has not yet done, but is sure he will one day, is win a major championship.

"It's one of the few things that I want to do now in tennis - win a Slam. It's something that is incredibly difficult to do, but something that I believe is possible," Murray said. "A lot of players say when they win their first Slam it's sort of a relief, because it's so much hard work that you put into it. So, you know, I'm hoping I can do it here."

He reached the final at last year's US Open before losing to Roger Federer.


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