Paul Haarhuis underlined the competitive nature of the 2005 Champions Tour by beating last yearâs winner and former World No.1 Jim Courier in the final of the Champions Masters at the Royal Albert Hall.
The Dutchman, who also defeated Grand Slam titlists Pat Cash, Thomas Muster and Sergi Bruguera to reach the final, saw off Courier 6-3, 7-6(2) to scoop the $100,000 winner-take-all prize.
Haarhuis was in supreme form throughout the week, and he saved his best for last.
Returning smartly, serving heavily and backing it all up with stiff volleys and ground-strokes, Haarhuis broke Courier twice in the first set to take it 6-3.
The American battled hard in the second set to force a tie-break, but Haarhuis refused to relent. He took the tie-break 7-2 to lift the Waterford Crystal trophy for the first time.
"Winning this tournament is a big thrill,â said Haarhuis, afterwards.
"I was just hoping to stay with him but I was winning my points so I was feeling good.
Courier did not make any excuses.
âThe better man won,â he said.
âPaul played beautifully today, he didn't give me any unforced errors. We played a couple of times this year and I knew he was playing really well. I didn't quite have the pop on the serve today and he was so sharp."
To be eligible to compete on the ATP Champions Tour, players must have been either a World No.1 during their competitive playing careers, a Grand Slam singles finalist, or a singles player on a victorious Davis Cup team, and no longer active on the ATP tour. Each event can also invite two players of its choice to take wild cards.
Players compete for points throughout the year to qualify for The Champions Masters. The top ten players in the Stanford Financial Champions Tour Rankings after all events are complete qualify automatically. The field in London is increased to 12 with the addition of two wild cards.
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