PHUKET: A second set tie-break was required to determine the Chang ITF Thailand Pro Circuit Tour mens singles tennis champion and it was Laurent Rochette of France who held his nerve to clinch the title.
Rochette looked in control throughout the match, pulling out big serves when needed, and took the first set comfortably with a 6-4 score, having had a 5-1 lead over his opponent Jimmy Wang of Taipei.
Wang came out stronger in the second set and both players held their serve until Rochette broke the second seed to leave the score at 4-3.
Rochette looked to consolidate his advantage in the eighth game, but Wang broke back immediately to tie the match once again, and in the next game he held his serve to lead at 5-4.
A superb love-service game from Rochette, including three aces, brought the scores level again at 5-5, but Wang once more showed character to take the next game and force Rochette to serve to save the set.
This the Frenchman did, and at 6-6 the champion would be decided by a tie-break.
Rochette again took an early lead at 3-1 and never looked back, eventually winning by four clear points.
Speaking to the Phuket Gazette after the match, Rochette was very gracious about his opponent.
“Jimmy played very well today. He had some great shots. I thought the game was over when I broke him in the second set, but he came back and that made it a very tough game. This was a great tournament and I thank everybody involved,” Rochette said.
A subdued Wang expressed his dismay at losing, noting that an injury probably cost him the title.
“I hurt my ankle in my quarter-final match against Dennis Lajola and shouldn’t really have played out here today. I had to change my game and I wasn’t able to move about the court as much as T wanted. It was a great game and I look forward to coming back again next year,” Wang said.
Rochette received his trophy to a rousing rendition of La Marseillaise from his traveling supporters in a boisterous and fitting end to a great tournament.
The Phuket Gazette and PGTV were sponsors of the tournament, held at the Thanyapura Sports and Leisure Club.
— Neil Quail
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