Home » HEADLINES AND FEATURES, Top Stories » Pico caps ‘perfect’ week with first hard court title at the Malaysian Open



Third seeded doubles pair Alexander Peya of Austria and Brazilian Bruno Soares come from a set down to clinch first title as partners

In an incredible final match that lasted over three hours, second seeded world No. 11 Juan Monaco of Argentina saw off an intense challenge from world No. 34 Julien Benneteau of France, winning 7-5, 4-6, 6-3 to emerge the Malaysian Open, Kuala Lumpur 2012 Singles Champion here at the Putra Stadium in Bukit Jalil.

It was Pico’s fourth title of the year and his seventh career title, but his first ever on hard court, while Benneteau was left still seeking his first ever ATP World Tour title.

Juan Monaco wins the Malaysian Open

“I’m very happy. We sang a little and went a little bit crazy with the team in the locker room. This week was perfect,” said the jubilant 28-year-old Argentinean, who will head to Tokyo tomorrow for the Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships.

In what was to become the longest match in the tournament, the duo exchanged two breaks each early in the first set before setting up an exhilarating twelfth game with Benneteau serving at 5-6 down. Backed by an enthusiastic crowd, Monaco saved game point four times and squandered an incredible eleven set/break points before finally taking the one set lead.

The second set started out in a similar pattern as the pair traded breaks in the first two games and held serve in the next two before Benneteau broke again in the fifth to take a 3-2 lead and saved two crucial break points in the sixth to maintain his momentum and force a decider.

The fantastic atmosphere in the stadium further motivated the players, as an emotionally charged crowd (with plenty of French and Argentinean supporters) gave due credit for the outstanding tennis showcase being put on and cheered rapturously for every point, often deservedly won after long, dogged high quality rallies.

In the final set, Monaco broke his opponent in the sixth game to take a 4-2 lead, and although he failed to convert a match point at 5-2 up, he wrapped up victory in the next game with a brilliant drop shot.

“I think we played a great match – up and down for both him and me. The twelfth game in the first set was crucial. I never gave up and tried to be focused. I knew if I won the game, I had the set,” said the champ.

”He surprised me a little bit in the second set because he seemed to struggle at the end of the first set and had treatment. He came back and played very well. Final set I had to be more aggressive. I’m happy with how I finished the match – aggressive,” added Monaco, who will break back into the Top 10 for the second time this year following his triumph.

Meanwhile, it was a case of ‘always the bridesmaid, never the bride’ for dejected Frenchman Benneteau, who came excruciatingly close to finally securing his first title.

“My elbow was not feeling so good. I felt something wrong during the warm up. But it was better in the second and third set. The fans were great today. Lots of French fans as well. It was a good court, good final and great atmosphere,” said the 31-year-old.

PEYA AND SOARES SECURE FIRST DOUBLES VICTORY AS PARTNERS

Third seeded doubles pair Austrian Alexander Peya and Brazilian Bruno Soares came from a set down to clinch their first ever doubles title together in a nail-biting 5-7, 7-5, (10-7) super-tie breaker victory in the finals held here on the Putra Stadium Centre Court in Bukit Jalil.

The unseeded Great Britain pairing of Colin Fleming and Ross Hutchins took out both seeded teams on their half of the draw, including the top seeds, and put up a valiant effort in their fifth ATP World Tour doubles finals together, but failed in their attempt to win their third title of the year and fourth career title.

The pairs had broken each other twice during the first set and seemed to be heading into a tie-break but the Great Britain pair stole a vital break at the end to seemingly take control of the match.

Both sides improved on serve in a riveting second set and held well, with Peya and Hutchins deadly at the net and most points picked up by strong volley winners. Peya and Soares finally got the breakthrough in the eleventh game to take a 6-5 lead and held serve to put the game into a super-tie breaker.

In a tightly contested super-tie breaker, Peya and Soares got their noses in front with a break in the ninth point and raced to a 7-4 lead. Although Fleming and Hutchins came back to 7-6, it was Peya and Soares who deservedly held on for the victory in front of a jubilant crowd.

“Every title is really good and special. It is a different story every time. This is only our fourth time playing together and to win – it feels good to get it so soon,” said the 30-year-old Brazilian, who has a doubles ranking of No. 24 and has won six other career doubles titles, including one earlier this year.

We have been working on our game in the off days and clicking more and more as a team and it has paid off,” said the 32-year-old Peya, who is ranked No. 33 in doubles, and reached a high of No. 17 earlier this year after clinching his second ever career title in Auckland.

“We have enjoyed the tournament a lot. It is a great event and on the weekend we got the crowd that it deserves. We have to thank all the people for really making it a good event, and we’re not just saying it because we won!” added Soares.

When asked about the future as a partnership, the duo, who will play in Tokyo and Shanghai, said: “This could be long term because we are working well. We’ll try to win more matches and see where this goes.”

AMONG THE BEST ATP TOURNAMENTS IN THE WORLD

Once again, the Malaysian Open, Kuala Lumpur 2012 received a glowing report from ATP supervisors, who spoke highly of all aspects of the tournament.

”The tournament has really come of age in our fourth year. You can see it in the quality of tennis, the players and the fans. For the first time, we had a crowd capacity of more than 75% in the last three days. We also had a glowing tournament review and the country should be proud. We are in the top 5% of ATP tournaments in the world,” said tournament director Nick Freyer of IMG.

The tournament was supported by the Ministry of Tourism Malaysia and Tourism Malaysia and sponsors that include Rado, CNN International, the DoubleTree by Hilton Kuala Lumpur, Wilson, 100 Plus, the Albukhary Foundation, Astro and the ATP World Tour’s Premier Partner Corona. The event is sanctioned by the Lawn Tennis Association of Malaysia.

More information and final results for all matches can be found by visiting the official website, www.MalaysianOpenTennis.com.



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