Pablo Cuevas wins 3rd career title with victory over qualifier Luca Vanni in Brazil Open final


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SAO PAULO — Pablo Cuevas won his third ATP title on Sunday by defeating qualifier Luca Vanni 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (4) in the Brazil Open final.

The 32nd-ranked Uruguayan lost his serve at 4-4 in the third set but rebounded to force the tiebreaker and clinch the victory at the clay-court tournament.

Cuevas has won all three singles finals he has played. His first two titles came last year, also on clay.

The 149th-ranked Vanni, who served 13 aces in the final, had the tournament of his career despite the loss. The 29-year-old Italian had never won a match on the ATP World Tour entering the week. He was the first qualifier to reach the Brazil Open final.

The Argentine-born Cuevas clinched the victory with his trademark one-handed backhand, then dropped to his knees and thrust both of his arms into the air in celebration after a match that lasted more than two hours at the Ibirapuera arena.

"There couldn't be a more difficult match to end the tournament," Cuevas said. "I started playing well but things changed quickly in the second set. Maybe I relaxed too much. I'm glad that in the end I was able to come away with the title."

Cuevas broke Vanni's serve late in the first set, but the Italian rebounded early in the second to even the match. Vanni missed a break opportunity at 3-3 in the third, but capitalized at 4-4 to earn a chance to serve for the match. He was broken right back, though, allowing Cuevas back in the match.

Vanni received a bye in the first round after top-seeded Feliciano Lopez of Spain withdrew because of an injury. The Italian beat qualifier Thiemo de Bakker of the Netherlands in the second round, Dusan Lajovic of Serbia in the quarterfinals and Brazilian home-crowd favorite Joao Souza in a three-set semifinal.

"It was the best week of my career," Vanni said.

The ATP remains in Brazil this week. The Rio Open begins Monday with Rafael Nadal as the top-seeded player.

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