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Izak on the up

Izak van der Merwe went one better than last year to win the Soweto Open tournament in Johannesburg on Sunday.

Beaten in last year’s final by Germany’s Dustin Brown, Van der Merwe won an all-South African final when he accounted for Rik de Voest in three sets, writes Mark Etheridge.

This after Van der Merwe had beaten Brown in the rain-interruped semi-final 7-5 7-6 (5) and De Voest had beaten unseeded Australian Greg Jones in three sets 3-6 7-6 (3) 6-2 in the other semi.

In the final, also interrupted by rain, fourth-seeded Van der Merwe beat his sixth-seeded compatriot 6-7 (4) 7-5┬á 6-3 to win the $100,000 tournament. Speaking to Road to London 2012 after his victory, Van der Merwe was a happy man. “The Soweto title means a lot to me. I think it was very fitting that me and Rik made it to the finals, since he lost in the finals two years ago and I lost in the finals last year. I think it was important that we got a SA winner of this event and I think all the support we got from the locals really helped us get through a tough draw and into the final.”

“This win will put me at a career high ranking so that is also a great achievement for me.”

Indeed Monday morning’s release of the new ATP Tour rankings saw Van der Merwe moving up 18 positions to 134th on the rankings while De Voest climbed even higher, going up 26 spots to 158th in the rankings. The two South Africans now head back to the United States for their clay-court season.

It’s clay-court action for the next while. “Next up I’ll play two clay court challengers in Sarasota, Florida and Savannah, Georgia. After that┬á I’ll play Zagreb Challenger and French Open qualies. So it will be four weeks on clay and I hope to play well and use this win as confidence for the rest of the year.”

In the women’s final unseeded Valeria Savinykh beat second-seeded Petra Cetkovska, the Russian beating her Czech Republic opponent 6-1 6-3 in the final.


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