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Monday, 18 February, 2002, 08:54 GMT
Gonzalez takes BellSouth Open
Fernando Gonzalez last won a tournament in Orlando in 2000
Victory over Lapentti gave Gonzalez his second tour title
F Gonzalez bt N Lapentti 6-3 6-7 (5-7) 7-6 (7-4)

Home favourite Fernando Gonzalez overcame a bout of cramp to claim the BellSouth Open title with a three-set victory over top seed Nicolas Lapentti in Chile.

Gonzalez took the second title of his career on a deciding tie-break in a three-hour epic on clay in Vina del Mar.

The Chilean served for the match at 5-3 in the third set, but was broken by Lapentti and then forced to take a medical time-out as cramp took hold.

After the resumption, Lapentti squared the match and went on to force a tie-break.


Fernando hits it unbelievably hard and if he keeps hitting them in he can beat anybody
Runner-up Nicolas Lapentti
But Gonzalez found the strength to win and thrill his home crowd with a victory he described as "unbelieveable".

The 21-year-old's cramp was so severe that his post-match press conference had to be held in the locker room, where two golf ball-sized lumps stood out on his right thigh.

Gonzalez described his win as a vindication of the power-hitting style he has stuck with despite a dip in form during 2001.

He said: "This victory proves that this game is the right one for me.

"This is the way I like to play and with my coach I've found a way to use that power to improve my game."

Lapentti added: "He hits it unbelievably hard and if he keeps hitting them in he can beat anybody. "

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