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Federer wins first title of the season

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SMILING AGAIN: Roger Federer is mighty pleased after winning the Estoril Open.
SMILING AGAIN: Roger Federer is mighty pleased after winning the Estoril Open.

James Blake in U.S. men’s claycourt championship final

LISBON: World No. 1 Roger Federer won his first title of the season at the Estoril Open tennis tournament on Sunday after Russia’s Nikolay Davydenko retired with a leg injury.

The Swiss top seed saved a set point before winning the opener 7-6(5).

He was 2-1 down in the second when the No. 2 seed Davydenko announced his decision to retire.

“This is not the way you want to win a tournament but that’s the way it goes sometimes,” said Federer, who recently hired clay court expert Jose Higueras to help him recover from the worst start to a season since 2000.

“It’s great to win a title again in my first clay court tournament this season and it gives me great confidence for the Monte Carlo Open.”

The 12-times Grand Slam winner has a perfect 10-0 record against Davydenko.

In the women’s section, Maria Kirilenko beat Iveta Benesova 6-4, 6-2 to win her third career title.

It was the third straight tournament that Benesova lost in the final.

At Valencia, Spaniard David Ferrer pulled off a thrilling third-set fightback to beat defending champion and compatriot Nicolas Almagro 4-6, 6-2, 7-6(2) to win the Valencia Open on Sunday.

Serena in final

At Charleston, fifth seed Serena Williams, seeking her third WTA title of the year, reached the Family Circle Cup final by beating French teenager Alize Cornet 7-5, 6-3 on Saturday.

After recovering from a sluggish start, the powerful American broke the 18-year-old Cornet in the eighth game of the second set before holding serve to wrap up victory in one hour and 24 minutes.

Easy for Blake

Meanwhile at Houston, top-seeded American James Blake booked his berth in the final of the U.S. men’s claycourt championship on Saturday with a straight-set victory over eighth-seeded Oscar Hernandez.

Blake, 28, defeated the Spaniard 6-3, 7-6(3) to give himself a chance to add a first career claycourt title to the 10 singles titles he has claimed on other surfaces.

The results: At Estoril (ATP & WTA Estoril Open): Final: Men: Roger Federer bt Nikolay Davydenko 7-6(5), 1-2 (retired). Women: Maria Kirilenko bt Iveta Benesova 6-4, 6-2.

At Valencia (ATP Valencia Open): Final: David Ferrer bt Nicolas Almagro 4-6, 6-2, 7-6(2).

At Houston (ATP U.S. claycourt Championship): Semifinals: James Blake bt Oscar Hernandez 6-3, 7-6(3); Marcel Granollers-Pujol bt Wayne Odesnik 3-6, 7-5, 6-3.

At Charleston (WTA Family Circle Cup): Semifinals: Serena Williams bt Alize Cornet 7-5, 6-3; Vera Zvonareva bt Elena Dementieva 6-3, 6-7(2), 6-3. — Agencies

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