Steady Berdych credit's serve for Rotterdam win

by Scott Williams, Agence France-Presse

Posted at Feb 17 2014 09:53 AM | Updated as of Feb 17 2014 05:53 PM

Tomas Berdych of Czech Republic reacts after winning his final match of the ABN AMRO tennis tournament against Marin Cilic of Croatia in Rotterdam February 16, 2014. Photo by Paul Vreeker, United Photos/Reuters.

ROTTERDAM - Tomas Berdych credited his steady serve for helping him end a 16-month title drought with a 6-4, 6-2 defeat of Marin Cilic in the Rotterdam World Tennis on Sunday.

The Czech Republic third seed could not contain his satisfaction after finally lifting a title.

"It feels so amazing, it's been so long, To win the title here is a real bonus. I'm extremely happy with how I handled things throughout the week."

The ATP number seven handed Croatia's unseeded Cilic his first loss after nine straight wins which took him to the Zagreb title a week ago.

It was the ninth career title for the new champion, off to his best season start with a 12-2 record.

Berdych had not lifted an ATP trophy since Stockholm, October, 2012.

He suffered through 2013 as the only player in the top 10 not to win a title, losing finals in Marseille, Dubai and Bangkok.

"I've been serving well all week, it was the strongest part of my game. My mental strength also saved me. This shows me that my tennis is not based on just one factor. I had a good all-round performance."

The victory in 75 minutes lifted Berdych to 5-2 over the 37th-ranked Cilic, a former top ten player who served a ban last year over a technical anti-doping infraction.

Berdych is the first Czech to win the Rotterdam honours since his Davis Cup teammate Radek Stepanek eight years ago.

Cilic admitted to fading a bit after his recent efforts.

"It was a tough one today, I felt a bit tired after 13 days of matches and he was serving really well.

"At the start I had some small chances with three break points in the third, game but I could not take advantage of them.

"I made some strange unforced errors but it's understandable due to my fatigue. Overall it was a good tournament for me, I played good tennis, I had a good run."

Berdych overcame early bad luck, missing on two Hawk-Eye electronic challenges and replaying a point after a ball went dead.

Berdych stayed on top of his game with a break of Cilic for 2-1, taking the first set in 45 minutes.

The seed seized control with a break to start the second set as a Cilic backhand flew long. A fourth double-fault from Cilic handed over another break for 5-2, with Berdych finishing off the contest a game later on his first match point.

Berdych lifted the title after losing serve only once this week, in the quarter-final against Jerzy Janowicz.

He is due to play Dubai starting in a week.

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