TENNIS: Hometown favorite runs away in decisive set at UCLA.
By Blair Angulo Staff Writer
Sam Querrey admitted he was a little worried heading into the third set of Sunday's L.A. Tennis Open final.
After all, Querrey had posted back-to-back runner-up finishes and was winless in three ATP Tour finals this season.
And here was Carsten Ball, the nearly anonymous lefty from Newport Beach who became to the first qualifier to reach the final in L.A. tournament history, sending the match into a third set and giving Querrey his doubts.
But Querrey was due.
The 21-year-old Querrey bounced back with an overwhelming third set to claim his second career title, 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, in front of 6,177 at UCLA's Straus Stadium.
"I felt a little pressure," Querrey said. "I was favored to win that match and favored to win the last two finals, so there's been a little pressure."
Ball, who was making his ATP Tour final debut, broke Querrey in the eighth game of the second set before sealing the set victory with a quartet of overpowering serves.
"I was really mad," Querrey said. "I was mad at myself, but I kept it together."
A day after upsetting top seed Tommy Haas, Querrey took a seat and regained his composure right before the start of the deciding set. The strategy seemed to pay off, with Querrey dominating the third set.
Querrey, who will move up a few slots after entering the tournament ranked No. 32, broke Ball in the second game by forcing him into a tough forehand attempt. He nearly did it again in the fourth game, but Ball held serve after Querrey had the advantage.
"It's a final; it means a lot," Querrey said. "There's going to be more emotion."
Querrey eventually managed to break Ball again in the sixth game and clinched the match with an ace.
"He got up a break early on me and that definitely gave him some confidence deep in the third," Ball said. "He just ran away with it.
Querrey improved from 27 percent of second-serve points won in the second set to 71 percent in the third.
"I may have gotten just a little bit tired, but it was more to do with how Sam was playing," said Ball, who seemed happy just to be playing on Sunday after experiencing the best week of his career.
In a post-match interview, Ball's father Syd, who captured eight ATP doubles titles during his professional career, sounded pleased about his son's "great effort" and ability to advance from the qualifiers.
"He looked a little bit jumpy, but Sam played a great match," Syd Ball said.
Querrey predicted fans will begin to see a lot more of Ball, projected to climb to the 140s after entering the tournament ranked at No. 205.
"It was a great week for Carsten," he said.
Querrey earned $100,000 and 250 points in the ATP rankings.
Ball, who all week had been commuting from his parents' home in Newport Beach, and Querrey, who resides in Santa Monica, made up the first all-Southern California tournament final since 1984, when Jimmy Connors ousted Rancho Palos Verdes native Eliot Teltscher.
"I'm off to a good start now and hopefully things will just keep rolling this summer," Querrey said.
Querrey wasn't the only one to reverse a trend.
After coming away empty-handed in their previous eight tournament appearances, Bob and Mike Bryan turned to a familiar event to snap their winless streak.
The top-seeded Bryan brothers won their fifth L.A. Tennis Open doubles title, defeating the German tandem of Benjamin Becker and Frank Moser, 6-4, 7-5 (2).
Their four other L.A. titles came in 2001, '04, '06 and '07. The Bryans, who were born in nearby Camarillo, extended their Los Angeles winning streak to 12 matches - all without dropping a set.
"The last one feels the freshest," Bob Bryan said. "This is definitely our most successful tournament. We have some great memories."
It had been nearly four months since the Bryans last won a tournament, doing so at the U.S. Men's Clay Court Championship in Houston.