Fernando Verdasco made up for a finals loss a week ago on clay as he gave Spain an eighth consecutive title at the Barcelona Open with a 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 victory over Swede Robin Soderling.
Verdasco put aside his hammering last weekend in Monte Carlo by Rafael Nadal to claim his second title of the season after San Jose two months ago.
“I’m very excited and happy to win this tournament,” said the winner. “I wasn’t originally going to play this week, but I got a wild card and here I am. It’s also my sister’s birthday.
“I’ve been training here since age 15, watching the Barcelona Open for me has always been a very special tournament. Winning here is just unbelievable.”
Soderling, losing French Open finalist last summer to Roger Federer, came to the court a favourite after having defeated ninth-ranked Verdasco in four of their five previous meetings — including twice on clay.
But Verdasco paid little heed to the form book as he fought through to the popular win in a shade over two hours at the Real club.
Soderling missed the chance to become the first Swede since Ken Carlsson 22 years ago to win the event.
Soderling only began his clay season this week after resting a knee injury and skipping Monte Carlo.
Verdasco improved to 23-6 on the season and stands 11-2 on clay.
Soderling lost his last two serves in the first set to go down as Verdasco took the early lead, with the Swede powering back in the second after Verdasco nullified a break in the opening stages.
Soderling broke again for 4-3 to keep his hopes alive as he squared the match. But Verdasco ran away with the third to earn the victory as he converted on four of his 11 break chances.