VINA DEL MAR, Chile -- French Open champion
Gaston Gaudio overcame a partisan crowd as he beat Chile's
Fernando Gonzalez to win the BellSouth Open ATP tournament on
Gonzalez, Olympic gold medallist in the men's doubles last
year and defending champion here, saved four match points in the
final game before Gaudio won 6-3 6-4 in one hour 37 minutes to
claim his first tournament since Roland Garros last June.
The Argentine clay court specialist, who kept his composure
despite some often rowdy crowd behaviour, broke in the eighth
game as he took the first set in 44 minutes.
Big-hitting Gonzalez, who was attempting to win the
tournament for the third time, made a good start to the second
set as he broke in the fourth game and took a 4-1 lead.
However, the Chilean second seed remained prone to unforced
errors, committing 26 in the match, and Gaudio took advantage as
he broke in the seventh and ninth games to go 5-4 ahead.
Gaudio, who lost four ATP finals last year, then seemed to
suffer from another bout of nerves in the last game.
Gonzalez saved the first two match points with powerful
returns off a second serve before Gaudio double-faulted on the
next match point.
Gonzalez saved the fourth with another return before Gaudio
finally wrapped up the title at the fifth attempt.