Tennis

Ferrer beats Rochus in straight sets

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AUCKLAND, New Zealand (AP)

Top-seeded David Ferrer won the Heineken Open singles title for the third time when he beat unseeded Belgian Olivier Rochus 6-3, 6-4 in Saturday's final.

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World No. 5 Ferrer geared up for the Australian Open with an impressive performance, dropping only one set in four matches to add this year's title — the 12th of his career — to victories in Auckland in 2007 and last year.

Ferrer beat Lukas Rosol, Alejandro Falla and third-seeded compatriot Fernando Verdasco on the way to the final in which he overpowered the 68th-ranked Rochus with his powerful serve and forehand. He served nine aces and won 81 percent of first serve points.

Rochus, who reached the Auckland final for the second time seven years after the first, played three three-setters en-route to the title match. He was also runner-up in 2005.

Ferrer became the third player after New Zealander Onny Parun and the great Australian Roy Emerson to win the Auckland title three times.

''I feel tired, very tired. I ran a lot this week,'' Ferrer said. ''But it's the first time I've won three times in the same tournament and so this is my favorite tournament.

''For me to win a tournament three times is very special.''

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Ferrer served strongly and won his opening service game to love. The second game had gone to deuce on Rochus's serve when the first of two lengthy rain delays occured. After returning, Rochus double faulted to drop his serve and Ferrer served for an early 3-0 lead.

The match went with serve until the ninth game, which was again interupted by a rain break, and in which Ferrer saved a break point before recovering to take the first set in 45 minutes.

Ferrer broke Rochus in the opening game of the second set but the tenacious Belgian fought back, breaking Ferrer in the fourth game to level at 2-2. The Spaniard broke again in the seventh game but had to save a further break point before gaining a 5-3 lead. He was then able to serve out the second set in 49 minutes.

Rocus expended every ounce of energy in trying to save the match, chasing down seemingly impossible returns, but was eventually overpowered. He wasn't helped by the rain breaks that have plagued the tournament this week.

''It was the same for both of us,'' he said. ''This week was not so easy with the weather but you have to get used to it. That's the life of a tennis player.''

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