TENNIS : Witsken Wins His First Title
Todd Witsken won the first singles title of his career Sunday, beating defending champion Wayne Ferreira, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, in the South African Open.
Witsken, 28, used a patient baseline game and sharp returns off Ferreira’s second serve after the first set, the only one he lost during the tournament.
His victory denied Ferreira, 20, of South Africa, the chance to become the first repeat winner of the $100,000 tournament since Vitas Gerulaitis won the title in 1981 and 1982.
Hindered all week by a sore right knee, Ferreira took part in some of the tournament’s most memorable matches. He outlasted compatriot Gary Muller in a three-tiebreaker struggle to reach the semifinals, then led top-seeded Petr Korda, 7-6, 2-0, when the Czech had to quit because of a sore back.
Sunday’s match opened with the unseeded Witsken breaking fifth-seeded Ferreira’s serve, but the South African quickly broke back to take a 3-2 lead. In the 10th game, with Ferreira up 5-4, the American fired long, then double-faulted on set point.
Witsken came back in the second set, breaking Ferreira early by returning winners off the South African’s second serve.
Ferreira regained control early in the third set, breaking Witsken in the first game and setting the tempo with strong baseline play.