Updated: Sunday, 22 June 2014 01:58 | By Agence France-Presse

Lopez defends Eastbourne crown, Keys wins first title

Feliciano Lopez of Spain retained his title at the ATP-WTA Eastbourne International on Saturday, while American teenager Madison Keys won her first career tournament on the English south coast. 


Lopez defends Eastbourne crown, Keys wins first title

Spain's Feliciano Lopez returns to France's Richard Gasquet during their men's singles final match at the Aegon International tennis tournament in Eastbourne, southern England on June 21, 2014 - by Glyn Kirk

Third-seeded Lopez defeated top seed Richard Gasquet 6-3, 6-7 (5-7), 7-5, sealing a contest that lasted nearly two and a quarter-hours with his 13th ace of the match.

Lopez won the title in 2013 and proved his strength on the lawns as he played last week's final at Queeen's club against Grigor Dimitrov, with the Spaniard losing after holding a match point.

The victory in Eastbourne prevented Gasquet from claiming a hat-trick of trophies at the pre-Wimbledon event, which he won when it was played in Notttingham in 2005 and 2006.

Lopez saved five of six break points he faced against Gasquet, who was playing in only his third tournament after missing almost all of the clay season with back problems.

Lopez earned the key break late in the final set of the marathon as he broke for 6-5 and closed out the win moments later.

The Spaniard, 32, became the eighth different player over the age of 30 to win an ATP title this year. 

Lopez also defended a title for the first time as he claimed the fourth of his career and second on grass.

"It was a big battle, I'm just glad to get through," said Lopez. 

"Richard plays well on this surface and I really had to work to win.

"But it feels great to back up a title here right before Wimbledon."

Despite losing Gasquet was pleased to be making a start after his injury worries and goes into Wimbledon ready to challenge.

"Of course I'm very disappointed to lose 7-5 in the final (set). You don't win a title every week. So of course it's tough. That's the sport.

"(But) the most important was here to feel no pain, to play 100 per cent," said the world number 14. 

"I played many matches here so I think I will be ready for Wimbledon.

"I had a lot of problems with my back, and I'm trying to come back every day. I've worked a lot on my physical condition. 

"I will take the positives and I try my best next week again. This win was for him, and next time I hope it will be on my side."

- Maiden title for Keys -

Earlier, Keys broke through for her first career title as she beat German fifth seed Angelique Kerber 6-3, 3-6, 7-5.

The 19-year-old from Florida became the first American to claim the title at Devonshire Park since Chanda Rubin in 2003.

Kerber saved three match points in the final game as the losing 2012 finalist struggled to stay in the match, but Keys ended those hopes as she earned the victory in just under two hours when Kerber hit the net with her 48th unforced error.

"It's incredible to be able to win here," said a delighed Keys, who will move into the world's top 30 for the start of Wimbledon on Monday.

"Hopefully there will be many more to come," added the teenager.

Keys had never before played a final, with a pair of semi-finals at Sydney and Strasbourg her best previous showings of 2014.

She hammered 19 aces, 60 winners and broke twice from 11 chances and the poised teenager said that while she was full of anticipation as she played for a title, it did not affect her game.

"It was a bit surreal playing in my first final, but all morning I tried to stay calm and not over-think it. My hands are still shaking, I'm really excited," said Keys.

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