Overcast conditions met the two combatants in Barletta as underdog Rick Langley
sought to upend veteran Dutchman Thomas Velten
in the final of the Barletta Open. Velten, the 2001 French Open runner-up, was forced to save multiple match points in the semi finals and was keen to start much more strongly against the man who has silently assassinated many favourites during the week. It was a perfect start he sought and a perfect start he received as the Dutch No. 3 looked dynamic in his search for his first title in the Open Era. In his second final of the season, Langley was tentative and struggled to put pressure on the 35-year old who earned two breaks of serve to go ahead 4-0. While Langley managed to hold twice in the first set, it was looking like a fizzer as the World No. 153 eased through the first set 6-2.
Langley needed to lift his game significantly in the second set if he was to avoid a flogging, and snatched an early lead by way of a stroke of luck. Down 30-40, Velten had an open court to draw level at deuce before taking the net and sending the ball wide. That was the spark Langley needed, though he had to find a double break to feel confident as his serve continued to falter. He got it in the eighth game to avoid having to serve it out as Velten double faulted to hand Langley the second set 6-2. Perhaps more importantly, the West CWLander was serving first in the decider.
But the momentum swung again, and Langley had the worst possible start to the third as Velten drew an error on the backhand side to take a 1-0 lead. He consolidated for a 2-0 lead, and the pressure was all back on Langley to find a way back into the set. Despite two opportunities in the fourth and sixth games, Langley could not get the break back and was crippled in the seventh as Velten played controlled tennis to take out a 24-shot rally. Bringing up a match point in his next service game, Velten struck a clean forehand winner for the title and 80 PTA Ranking points 6-2, 2-6, 6-2.
While Barletta is a long way from 2001's 4-6, 3-6, 6-2, 4-6 loss to one-shot wonder Max Baccarini
, the signs are good for Velten to make one last Roland Garros push.
- Seeded players out: None.