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Paradorn first Asian to Sweden summit

Stockholm: Paradorn Srichaphan, serving powerfully after losing the first set, came back to beat Marcelo Rios 6-7 (2-7), 6-0, 6-3, 6-2 in the final of the Stockholm Open here Sunday.

It was the second title of the year for the 23-year-old from Bangkok, who won the Waterhouse Cup in New York in August. He became the first-ever Asian winner of the Stockholm Open, the world’s oldest indoors.

Paradorn, who also reached two other finals this year, broke Rios’ serve twice in the last set and wrapped up the match by holding his serve to love with his 30th ace of the match. The victory was worth $ 85,500. Rios earned $ 41,000.

Paradorn broke Rios’ serve three times as he blanked the Chilean in the second set and won seven straight games until Rios managed to hold his serve to level 1-1 in the third set.

Paradorn broke Rios on his fifth break point to lead 3-1. In the next game, Paradorn saved two break points before finishing it off with two aces. Both men held their serve the rest of the way, with Paradorn ending the set with another pair of aces.

In the opening set, Rios had a set point in game 12, but the Thai saved it with an ace. Rios, supported by hundreds of noisy, flag-waving fans, took command early in the ensuing tiebreak and won five straight points from 2-2.

In the semi-finals against Tommy Robredo, Paradorn changed into his lucky red-colour shirt when leading 2-1 in the third set and didn’t lose a game after that.

Red means “winning colour” in Thai, and Paradorn, who admitted he is superstitious, changed to another lucky red shirt after breaking Rios to lead 4-1 in the fourth set Sunday.

This was their second meeting. Paradorn also won the first match, a semi-final in Washington DC in August.

Since then, Paradorn has been one of the hottest players on Tour, winning 25 of his last 31 matches and proving that his straight-set stunner over Andre Agassi in the second round at Wimbledon was no fluke. His triumph here means he will break into the top 20 on the Champions’ Race for the first time.

Rios’ loss probably means that his streak of winning at least one tournament for eight consecutive years will come to an end. The former world No. 1 had not reached a final before coming to Stockholm, one of his favourite stops on the ATP Tour.

Rios’ best results in major tournaments include a quarterfinal berth at the Australian Open and a semi-final spot in the Nasdaq-100 open in Miami.

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