VALENCIA, Spain (AP) Joao Sousa won the Valencia Open final by beating seventh-seeded Roberto Bautista Agut 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 Sunday.
”I’ve lost five finals before, so going into this match I was prepared to give it all until the end,” Sousa said.
The unseeded Portuguese, who picked up his second career title after Kuala Lumpur in 2013, was broken in the eighth game of the opening set which his opponent closed out on serve.
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It got worse for Sousa when Bautista Agut broke his serve in the first game of the second set with the 24th-ranked Spaniard heading for his first title of the year. But Sousa fought back, winning seven games in a row at one stage, as his opponent struggled physically with a blister on his right foot and taking a lengthy timeout after Sousa had won the second set.
Sousa broke Bautista Agut at the start of the final set, and although he failed to close out the match at 5-2 when his opponent rallied defiantly to stay in the match, Sousa made no mistake on his second opportunity. He clinched the title by holding to love as a weary backhand return sailed long from Bautista Agut.
Sousa converted 4 out of 5 break point opportunities – Bautista Agut could only make 3 out of 10.
”I didn’t start as well as I would have liked to,” Sousa said. ”When I was 1-3 down in the second set I decided to change things tactically and I was very successful with it.”
Bautista Agut was clearly tired from his semifinal win against Steve Johnson where the Spaniard saved six match-points.
”The match last night finished very late and that affected me physically,” Bautista Agut said. ”It’s been a very long season and by the last set I was dead.”