Gasquet, Halep win Kremlin Cup titles

Last Updated: Sunday, October 20, 2013 - 23:49

Moscow: Top-seeded Frenchman Richard Gasquet battled back from a set down to win his third title of the year, beating Kazakhstan qualifier Mikhail Kukushkin in the Kremlin Cup final in Moscow on Sunday.

In the WTA final, Romanian Simona Halep captured her fifth title of the year, defeating Australia`s Samantha Stosur 7-6 (7/1), 6-2.

Gasquet, who is ranked 10th in the world, won in a tight three-setter 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 in two hour 23 minutes to record his second victory over Kukushkin in as many meetings.

Gasquet and Kukushkin both looked focused from the start, holding their serves until the seventh game, when the 25-year-old Kazakh broke to take the opening set in 43 minutes.

In the second Gasquet, who is trying to secure one of four remaining spots in the ATP World Tour Finals, broke twice to level at 1-1 after one hour 26 minutes on court, while Kukushkin broke back once.

No big serves were made in the deciding set before the seventh game when Kukushkin, who is 102 in the ATP rankings, broke. But Gasquet maintained his grip to take three consecutive games, the set and the match.

With that win Gasquet leapfrogged a compatriot Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the ATP Race To London to become also the second French winner of the ATP Kremlin Cup after Paul-Henri Mathieu who won the title in 2002.

At the award ceremony Gasquet, playing in Moscow for the first time, praised the public for their support and promised to come back next year to defend his title.

"It was an incredible week for me and now I have great memories about playing here," he said.

"I really enjoyed my performance in Moscow and I want to come back here next year to defend my title."

"It is one of the most successful seasons in my career but the race for a place in London (for the season-ending ATP World Tour finals) is not over yet and I now need to concentrate on my further playing to get there."

In the women`s final the 22-year-old fifth seed Halep -- ranked 18 in the world -- took 1hr 41minutes to defeat her seventh-seeded opponent and 2011 US Open champion and record only her second win in five meetings with the Australian veteran Stosur.

"It`s an incredible year for me and I am enjoying every moment of it," said Halep, who is projected to break into the Top 15 after her latest win.

"Now I already have all of my thoughts about the Tournament of Champions in Sofia (the second tier end of season tournament, the top event taking place in Istanbul next week).

"It`s a very special event for me and I`m preparing thoroughly for it and hope to perform there at my top level."

Halep and Stosur, who was looking for her second successive title having won in Osaka last Sunday, were evenly-matched throughout the first set but the Romanian took a firm grip on the tie-break to take the set in just over an hour.

Stosur, 29, started the second set brightly breaking her opponent immediately but Halep, who has won all of her four previous finals this year, stepped up a gear and broke back before breaking Stosur`s serve on another two occasions to ease to victory.

AFP

First Published: Sunday, October 20, 2013 - 23:49

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