French Open Champ Costa, Mantilla Meet in Seniors Barcelona Final


Posted on April 18, 2009

During their ATP careers, Spanish pair Felix Mantilla and Albert Costa faced each other 13 times, including a classic three-set battle in Barcelona in 2002. On Sunday, the pair will clash in Barcelona again after reaching the final of the Champions Cup.

Both players won their final round robin matches on Saturday to top their respective round-robin groups. Mantilla continued his excellent ATP Champions Tour debut with a 6-3, 6-3 win over 1991 Wimbledon champion Michael Stich, and then Costa booked his place with a thrilling 6-3, 4-6, 10-6 (Champions' Tie Break) victory over Dutchman Richard Krajicek.

Sunday's play-off match for third place will be contested by Swedes Magnus Gustafsson and Anders Jarryd after both men won on Saturday to finish second in their respective groups. For the very latest scores, news and gossip from Barcelona, follow us on Twitter:  http://www.atpchampionstour.com/twitter.html

In two matches which both featured a classic clash of styles, the baseline duo of Mantilla and Costa prevailed against grass-court specialists, Stich and Krajicek. Mantilla always looked in control against Stich, whose serve-and-volley game misfired as the German struggled to get to grips with the depth and topspin of Mantilla's shots.

After the match, Mantilla explained how pleased he was to reach the final in Barcelona, where he won the ATP title in 1999.

"I'm so happy to be on court again and I'm glad I won today," he said. "I think I have extra motivation because I am playing at home with the crowd on my side and that's always nice. The final against Costa will bring back some nice memories of our matches on Tour. I think it will be special and we will both have fun."

Costa's opponent Krajicek came out with all guns blazing in the last match of the day, but his moments of brilliance were not frequent enough to topple his more consistent opponent. The Spaniard eventually prevailed in a Champions' Tie Break. Costa, the 2002 French Open Champion, will be looking to win his first ATP Champions Tour title in the final on Sunday.

"I have never won a tournament on the Champions Tour so I want to try and win my first one," he said. "But I know Felix is in very good shape so it's going to be so difficult. We know each other a lot and it's going to be like old times."

Elsewhere, Gustafsson beat Cedric Pioline in a three-set thriller 6-4, 4-6, 10-8 (Champions' Tie Break) while Anders Jarryd overcame a brave Pat Cash 6-2, 6-1. Cash had withdrawn from his match a day earlier because of a foot injury, but courageously completed his final round-robin encounter.
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