Arthurs: I'm going to savor every moment

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Unseeded Australian Wayne Arthurs
became the oldest first-time winner since the ATP Tour was formed
in 1990, beating third-seeded Mario Ancic of Croatia 7-5, 6-3 on
Sunday in the Tennis Channel Open.
The 33-year-old left-hander, in his 128th ATP Tour-level
tournament, dominated his 20-year-old opponent.
"It feels really, really good, really satisfying," Arthurs
said. "Especially now that I'm older, it's probably even more
satisfying to win a tournament this late in my career. I'm going to
savor every moment of it, that's for sure."
Arthurs, who turns 34 on March 17, is the second-oldest player
on the ATP Tour behind 34-year-old Andre Agassi. The Australian is
the first 33-year-old to win an ATP-level event since Tom Gullikson
did it in Newport, R.I., in 1985.
For the second match in a row, Arthurs' opponent never reached
break point. Arthurs held serve for his final 62 games of the
tournament, 11 of them on Sunday. The only service break against
him all week was by No. 4 seed Taylor Dent, beaten by the
Australian in the first round.
"I felt that I couldn't miss my serve no matter how hard I hit
it," Arthurs said.
Arthurs' mix of placement and power on his serve, along with a
strong return game, baffled Ancic throughout the 80-minute match on
the hardcourt surface at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess Resort.
Even if Arthurs faulted on his first serve, he came back with a
hard one on the second.
"It was unbelievably difficult," Ancic said. "I knew he was
serving big and I'd have a really tough time, but the way he
returned was impressive. I didn't really expect that. I was
expecting many more free points, and he was not giving me any."
Ancic managed only three points against Arthurs' serve in the
first set and five in the second.
"I've played with a lot of big servers," Ancic said, "but
I've never felt like today, that I really couldn't do anything."
Both players hit 136 mph on their hardest serve. Both held serve
through the first 11 games, then Arthurs took advantage of a couple
of mistakes to break serve on the 12th game and win the set. With a
terrific passing shot past the charging Ancic, Arthurs broke serve
in the sixth game of the second set to go up 4-2, and that was all
he needed.
Arthurs has 11 ATP doubles titles, but his only other singles
final was at Nottingham in 2002, when he lost to Jonas Bjorkman.
What has kept him going?
"Probably love of the sport," Arthurs said. "You look back
and you think, 'Would I rather be in an office doing something
else?' I don't think so. I just love being out there."
The victory earned Arthurs $52,000 and raised his ranking from
99 to 64. The performance also earned him entry to the French Open
and Wimbledon.
Ancic also was in his second final, and experienced his second
finals loss to an older player. He was beaten by 30-year-old
Frenchman Antony Dupois in Milan last year.
Ancic will compete for Croatia against the United States in next
week's Davis Cup first-round competition in Carson, Calif. Arthurs
will compete for Australia against Austria before flying all the
way back to the United States for the Indian Wells tournament.