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Stepanek Steps Up To The Winner Circle In Brisbane


The finals at the Brisbane International in Australia featured third seed, Spaniard Fernando Verdasco and eight seed, Czech Radek Stepanek. Using his customary antics and tactics to unnerve his opponent, Stepanek triumphed over Verdasco 3-6, 6-3, 6-4.

From the first game, Stepanek placed Verdasco on notice that volleying would be the order of the day. The Czech brought the Spaniard into net with a dropshot which the latter deftly handled for a backhand volley winner and went on to hold serve. Serving at 0-1, Radek unleashed another dropshot which Fernando again reached for a forehand volley winner. With two consecutive unforced errors from Stepanek, Verdasco arrived at triple break point. With a forehand down the line winner, Verdasco took a 2-0 lead. After finally holding serve at 1-3, Stepanek pressured two unforced errors from Verdasco’s weaker side, the backhand, for love-30. However, it is the closest the Czech got to overcoming the break deficit. The Spaniard pulled out the game and capped off the set with a forehand volley for winner.

A major problem for Stepanek the previous set was a low first serve percentage which impeded his venturing to the forecourt. The Czech quickly rectified that dilemma. Serving to open the second set, Stepanek connected on an overhead smash and two volleys to lead 1-0. Then, by pressuring Verdasco’s backhand, Stepanek got his first break point. Despite being unsuccessful, for Radek, this was a sign of better things on the horizon. When Stepanek got another break chance, he took the opportunity to rouse up the crowd. When later Verdasco misfired on a backhand crosscourt backhand, Stepanek had a 3-1 lead. Now fully energized and with a potent first serve and lethal volleys, Stepanek went on to carry the second set.

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