HOUSTON, Texas, April 16 (BSS/AFP) - Argentina's fourth- seeded Juan Monaco outlasted US second seed John Insner for a 6- 2, 3-6, 6-3 triumph on Sunday in the final of the $442,500 ATP US Men's Clay Court Championship.
Monaco, ranked 16th in the world, captured his fifth career
ATP title and his second of the year after a Febuary crown at
Vina del Mar. Before that, he had not won an ATP title since
"This is a great moment in my career," Monaco said. "This
tournament is going to bring me a lot of confidence."
Monaco, who improved to 5-8 in ATP finals, had reached the
semi- finals last month at Miami, losing to the eventual winner,
world number one Novak Djokovic.
Isner saved 12 of 15 break points that he faced, but lost
the only one he saw in the third set to surrender a break in the
penultimate game of the match. Monaco held once more to claim the
crown after two hours and 27 minutes.
"I came out of the gates slow," Isner said. "I wasn't quite
there. It took a while to get warmed up and engaged in the match.
I got better as the match went on. After the first set, the
quality from both of us picked up a lot.
"I had some things go right in the second set but I had some
things go against me in the third set. He was pressuring me
pretty well all day. All in all, it was a good effort and was the
best match I played all week."
Monaco had lost both prior matches against Isner, including
a third- round affair last month at Indian Wells.
"We played a great final," Monaco said. "First set, I played
really well. Then he came back in the second. In the final set,
it was a battle. We fought until the last point. I served pretty
well in the last game so I'm happy."
Despite the defeat, Isner will become the top-ranked
American player in the world on Monday when he passes countryman
Mardy Fish and moves up one spot into ninth in the ATP rankings.
"I'm making good strides this year. I just have to keep on
working," Isner said. "I know there's room to improve in my game.
I still need to get into better shape.
"I want to play 70 matches a year. To do that, I would have
to have a pretty darn good year."
Isner, who sparked a US semi-final Davis Cup triumph on
French clay last week to book a semi-final date with Spain in
September, missed a chance for his fourth career ATP title and
the first on clay.
Isner, a runner-up to Roger Federer last month at Indian
Wells, lost to fellow American Sam Querrey in the 2010 Belgrade
final in his only prior clay final.