Sergi Bruguera outlasted Boris Becker on Monday to win the Monte Carlo Open and continue his run of clay court victories.
In winning his 16th match in his last 17 on clay, the Spaniard needed four hours and five minutes to defeat Becker 5-7, 6-4, 7-6 (8-6), 7-6 (7-4).The match began on Sunday but was postponed until Monday because of rain. Becker was serving for the first set at 5-4 when the rain washed out play.
"He's in the form of his life and I could have won every set," said Becker, who has made his reputation on fast services but was up at least a service break in all four sets. Of the 45 finals in which Becker has played, this was just his third on clay.
The 20-year-old Bruguera, by contrast, was in his third straight clay court final. But it took brilliant displays of tactical tennis by Brugera to beat Becker and take home $125,000 from the $1 million purse.
"To win a tournament like Monte Carlo and beat a player like Becker is the dream of my life," he said.
In his two previous tournaments, Bruguera, ranked 15th in the world before this week, had won his first tournament ever at Estoril, Portugal, and lost in the final at Barcelona.
But this one was difficult.
After winning the first set, Becker led 3-1 in the third and fourth sets and was serving 5-3 for the fourth when he was broken by Bruguera.
But he came out of the match confident about the future, particularly the French Open, which begins May 27 on the slow, red clay at Roland Garros Stadium.
"I am trying to save the big one for the future," he said. "Basically I know I am able to beat almost anybody on clay now. It's the best I have played for a whole week."
The match resumed under bright sunshine Monday afternoon. Becker could not hold his initial service as Bruguera took three straight points to even the score at 5-5.
But Becker broke Bruguera again to go ahead 6-5 and won the first set 7-5.
Bruguera came back from a break down in the second set to win, 6-4.
In the third set tiebreaker, Becker made three unforced errors, including an easy volley, that cost him.