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Nicolas Almagro successfully defended his title at the Open de Nice Cote d'Azur, winning his 12th career title on the ATP Tour by thumping 27-year old qualifier Brian Baker in straight sets, 6-3, 6-2 in a slightly disappointing final.
Baker, ranked 216th in the world coming into this tournament, had the best week of his professional career picking up wins over Frenchman Gael Monfils and former world no.3 Nikolay Davydenko on his way to the final. However, the American failed to reproduce the same level of play against a seasoned pro like Almagro, going down in just 69 minutes.
Baker competed well in the initial stages of the match, as games went on serve in the early exchanges. However, Almagro stepped on the gas mid-way through the opening set and won 10 of the last 12 game on his way to the title.
While Almagro broke Baker's serve twice in each set, the American has just the one look on the Almagro serve as the Spaniard played some aggressive tennis, serving 11 aces and dropping just 4 points on his first serve all match.
This is the Spaniardâ€™s second win on clay this season, the previous one coming at the Brasil Open in Sao Paulo. Almagro has been inconsistent in his Grand Slam appearances but hopefully todayâ€™s win will help him take some confidence into the French Open, where he was a quarterfinalist in 2010.
Brian Baker will be pleased with his final appearance and one can expect an impressive performance from him at the French Open. He has had an unsteady tennis career, plagued with injuries. Baker was a promising talent in his younger days and had the makings of a top player. The American is finding his form and will want to make good use of his wildcard entry at the Roland Garros. He will open his campaign against Belgian veteran Xavier Mallise. Almagro, seeded 12th at the French Open, faces Paolo Lorenzi in his first round match.
File Photograph Copyright: Madrid Masters
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