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Clement beats Murray to capture ATP title

Arnaud Clement won his first ATP title outside his native France, defeating Andy Murray 7-6 (7/3), 6-2 in the Washington Classic final.

india Updated: Aug 07, 2006 11:58 IST

Arnaud Clement won his first ATP title outside his native France, defeating blister-bothered British eighth seed Andy Murray 7-6 (7/3), 6-2 in Washington on Sunday in the Washington Classic final.

The 57th-ranked Frenchman, who also won earlier this year at Marseille, took the 74,250-dollar top prize and his fourth career title at the 600,000-dollar US Open warmup event.

"It's one of my greatest weeks ever," Clement said. "I think I played my best match in the finals so it was a perfect week for me.

"For sure it's special being French to win a tournament in France. I enjoyed this one a lot also. It gives me a lot of confidence. It was very important."

Clement was aided by 35th-ranked Murray developing two right-hand blisters that left the 19-year-old Scotsman struggling even after treatment following the second game of the second set.

"I never had a blister before and I don't like to play with tape on my hands," Murray said. "When the blisters burst, it was hard to hold my racket."

"It was quite difficult for me but it definitely wasn't the reason I lost. I played a very good player. He had a great tournament."

A magical week for Clement, who did not drop a set in five matches, included the first triumphs of his 10-year career over Australian Lleyton Hewitt, Russian Marat Safin and Slovakian Dominik Hrbaty after years of frustration.

"I beat a lot of very good players," Clement said. "It was a fantastic match for me. I didn't make many mistakes and I felt good on the court."

"He missed a lot of forehands in the second set. He missed too much maybe with this little problem in his hand."

Clement, 28, also won titles at Lyon in 2000 and Metz in 2003. He will jump into the mid-40s in the ATP rankings while Murray will improve from 35th to a career-best mark around 30th in the world.

Murray, playing his first tournament under new coach Brad Gilbert, was foiled in a bid for his second title of the year, having captured his first career crown in February at San Jose.

"Clement outplayed him. He played tremendous tennis," Gilbert said. "He raised his game and Andy was a little bothered by the blisters. I'm pleased overall but a little disappointed with today. Hopefully it won't linger."

Felled by 31 unforced errors thanks in part to the blister, Murray's week ended in disappointment after he followed a tradition of Gilbert pupils Andre Agassi and Andy Roddick by reaching the final in his first event under Gilbert.

Agassi reached the Miami final in 1994 but lost to Pete Sampras in his first match under Gilbert. Roddick won the 2003 Queen's final in his first match under Gilbert, defeating France's Sebastien Grosjean in the final.

Murray opened with a break but Clement answered in the sixth game and the two traded breaks again on the way to a tie-breaker in which Clement won the last four points, finishing on a running forehand cross-court winner.

"It was tough to make a winner on this one," Clement said.

Murray improved after treatment before the third game but squandered two break-point chances against Clement in the final game and the Frenchman ended it when Murray hit a forehand wide after one hour and 43 minutes.

"I was very nervous to finish the match and to start the match too," Clement said. "After the start, it was a perfect match for me."

First Published: Aug 07, 2006 11:58 IST