Argentina's Juan Monaco won the ATP clay court title in Houston on Sunday, cementing his return from injury with a 3-6, 6-3, 7-5 victory over defending champion Jack Sock.
"I didn't expect this so fast," said Monaco, who had surgery on his right wrist in August and was sidelined for six months. "No words to describe this moment."
The former top-10 is projected to rise from his 146th in the world to 90th, and said it was fitting that the first title of his return came in such a dramatic battle.
"Today was a quick movie of my life," said Monaco, 32, claiming his first ATP title since Duesseldorf in 2013 and his second in Houston to go with the one he earned in 2012.
After Sock took the first set, Monaco received treatment on his right arm, and after the injury timeout Sock lost 10 of the next 14 games.
Sock, the fourth seed, received treatment on his right arm and right shoulder, and was visibly limping in the third set -- when he still managed to erase two breaks of serve in the decider before Monaco finally finished him off.
"I'm not sure exactly what happened with my body," Sock said. "Last night I didn't feel great, was sweating even in a very air-conditioned room. So maybe coming down with something.
"But it doesn't take away from his battle and his fight today."
Monaco celebrated his ATP 250 title with the traditional leap into the River Oaks Country Club pool.
— US Men's Clay Court (@mensclaycourt) April 10, 2016
Stephens third title of 2016 in Charleston
American Sloane Stephens won her third WTA title of 2016 on Sunday, beating resurgent Russian Elena Vesnina 7-6 (7/4), 6-2 in Charleston, South Carolina.
The seventh-seeded Stephens rallied from an early break to take a 5-2 lead in the first set, only for Vesnina to win four games in a row and give herself a set point with a welter of winners.
Stephens kept her cool, won the set in a tiebreaker and powered through the second.
She broke Vesnina twice more and clinched the victory on her fourth match point.
"I just said to myself, 'You have to fight for every point and compete,'" said Stephens, who had saved a match point against Russian Daria Kasatkina in the quarter-finals and reached the final after top seed and defending champion Angelique Kerber, the reigning Australian Open champion, withdrew with illness while trailing in their semi-final contest.
"She's a great player, so I knew I had to stay in every point," she said of Vesnina. "When I got a couple of opportunities, I took them, so that was great."
Stephens, who lifted the trophies in Auckland and Acapulco this year, is hoping Sunday's triumph will be a stepping stone to a strong season on the red clay of Europe.
Vesnina, a former world number 21 who reached the Charleston final in 2011, reached the title match this year as a qualifier.
She toppled second-seeded Swiss Belinda Bencic in the second round, and is projected to rise from 85th into the top 55 of the world rankings thanks to her run.
With Volvo Car USA as the new title sponsor, the tournament presented Stephens with a brand-new limited edition Volvo. "Oh my goodness!" a shocked Sloane said on court. "You guys, I Just won a car."
— WTA (@WTA) April 10, 2016
Delbonis shatters Coric's teen title bid
Croatia's Borna Coric failed in his bid to become the first teenage champion on the ATP Tour for eight years when he lost the ATP 250 Marrakech final to in-form Federico Delbonis on Sunday.
The fourth-seeded Argentine, who had stunned world number two Andy Murray at Indian Wells last month, eased to a 6-2, 6-4 victory over third-seeded Coric on the Marrakech clay.
The 19-year-old Coric, appearing in just his second final, was bidding to become the first teenage champion since compatriot Marin Cilic at New Haven in 2008.
For Delbonis, 25, it was a second career title to add to his 2014 victory in Sao Paulo in 2014.
Cibulkova wins fifth career title at Katowice
Slovakia's Dominika Cibulkova won her first title since 2014 when she swept past Italy's Camila Giorgi, 6-4, 6-0 in the Katowice WTA final on Sunday.
Eighth-seeded Cibulkova, the 2014 Australian Open runner-up, captured the last seven games of the match against her fifth-seeded opponent who was playing in her third final at the Polish venue.
A former world number 10, Cibulkova saw her ranking fall to 62 last year when she missed five months of the season to undergoing Achilles surgery.
But her win on Sunday -- a fifth career title -- will put her back into the top 40 and in with a chance of being seeded for the French Open.
Cibulkova dedicated the win to her father Milan who was celebrating his birthday on Sunday.
"I think this is the best gift," said the 26-year-old whose last title came in Acapulco in 2014.
(With inputs from AFP)
Published Date: Apr 11, 2016 02:12 pm | Updated Date: Apr 11, 2016 02:12 pm