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World No. 12 Gilles Simon triumphed at the BRD Nastase Tiriac Trophy for the third time on Sunday as he defeated first-time finalist Fabio Fognini 6-4, 6-3.
The Frenchman had clinched the title on his previous two visits to Bucharest in 2007 (d. Hanescu) and 2008 (d. Moya) and improved to a 15-1 mark at the ATP World Tour 250 clay-court tennis tournament.
“It’s great,” said Simon. “I played a great match today. It was very difficult; Fabio played well and I had to run a lot today. You really have the feeling that you are never in control of the game. I’m always happy when I win a tournament like this because sometimes people think it will be easy when you’re the No. 1 seed, but on the court it’s very close every time. I’m very proud to win this tournament for the third time and to bring the trophy back home.”
The top-seeded Simon clinched the first set after five breaks of serve had been exchanged and broke Fognini’s serve twice more in the second set to claim victory in one hour and 50 minutes. He saved 10 of the 12 break points he faced. It was his fourth win in four meetings with Fognini.
The 28-year-old Simon captured his 10th ATP World Tour title and fifth on clay. He has won at least one ATP World Tour title every year since 2007. The right-hander improved to a 21-10 match record on the season, having also reached the semi-finals in Brisbane (l. to Dolgopolov), Montpellier (l. to Monfils) and last week on clay in Monte-Carlo (l. to Nadal).
The No. 57-ranked Fognini was attempting to become the first player this season to win his maiden ATP World Tour title. En route to the final, he had beaten fifth seed Marcos Baghdatis and No. 6 Andreas Seppi.
The 24-year-old Italian, who was sidelined earlier in the season with a foot injury, dropped to a 6-6 match record in 2012.
“I’m upset because I lost the final,” said Fognini. “I had my chances, but he has played more finals than me and is more experienced. Maybe next time I will have the chance to win the tournament. It’s been a good week. I’m happy that I played great tennis; it was just my third tournament after the injury.”