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BBC Sport's Richard Evans
"Albert Portas has been a man transformed this week"
 real 14k

Sunday, 20 May, 2001, 16:35 GMT 17:35 UK
Portas triumphs in five-set thriller
Albert Portas
Portas took over three hours to claim his first title
Albert Portas (Spa) beat Juan Carlos Ferrero (Spa) 4-6 6-2 0-6 7-6 7-5

Little-known Spaniard Albert Portas caused a huge upset at the Hamburg Masters by beating hot favourite Juan Carlos Ferrero in the final.

Portas hung on in a gripping five-set match, which lasted over three and a half hours, to overcome his fellow Spaniard 4-6 6-2 0-6 7-6 7-5.

The eighth seed Ferrero had expected to clinch his fifth title of the season and become the first man ever to win the Rome and Hamburg titles back to back - but he faded against the determined qualifier.

The pair had split the opening two sets before Ferrero appeared to take control in the third, winning it in just 22 minutes.


It's the happiest day of my life... it was a great match for everybody
  Albert Portas

But Portas, nicknamed the 'drop shot dragon' and ranked 42 in the world, recovered brilliantly from that lapse, to storm back and outlast his rapidly tiring rival.

Portas, playing only his third career final, grasped the unexpected opportunity which had come his way to emulate Roberto Carretero, another Spaniard who carried off the title at the Rothenbaum Tennis Club as a qualifier in 1996.

"It's the happiest day of my life. It was a great match for everybody," said the 27-year-old from Barcelona.

"I like to play Spanish players as we are all friends. I knew it would be hard - but I did it."
Juan Carlos Ferrero
Ferrero ran out of gas

Out of gas

Ferrero looked set for victory as he won the first seven points against Portas, who had lost the pair's two previous meetings in straight sets.

Instead, Portas, who pocketed $400,000 for winning, completely turned the tables as Ferrero ran out of gas, after a Tour-leading run of 16 straight wins.

Ferrero finally conceded the encounter with a wayward backhand on Portas' second match point.

More importantly, the defeat will undoubtedly have shaken Ferrero's confidence ahead of the French Open, where he was hoping to launch a challenge to Brazil's Gustavo Kuerten.

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See also:

19 May 01 |  Tennis
Hewitt flops against qualifier
20 May 01 |  Tennis
Dokic claims Italian Open
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