Frenchman Paul-Henri Mathieu became the 2010 men’s champion beating Chilean Nicolas Massu 6-3 6-2 in the final, while Canada’s 16-year-old starlet Eugenie Bouchard was crowned women’s champion after a 6-3 6-3 success over Norwegian Ulrikke Eikeri. Two new names were inscribed on the Liverpool International singles trophies on Saturday.
Earlier in the week Chile’s Massu had spoken of his dislike for grass, and Mathieu took advantage with another impressive performance.
Both men had been undefeated in singles matches all week, but the Frenchman always looked more at ease on the Calderstones Park turf.
He broke in the eighth game to take a 5-3 lead and serve out for the first set.
The Frenchman’s variety of shot and movement kept him on top in the second set as Massu’s first experience of grass for three years proved a frustrating one.
Mathieu continued to dominate on serve, winning cheap points and preventing his opponent from developing any rhythm in the rallies.
He threatened to break in the third game of the second set, but Massu held on, determined to maintain an unbeaten head-to-head record against the Frenchman.
But the 28-year-old wasn’t to be denied and broke Massu twice more to serve for the match at 5-2 – holding comprehensively to love.
“I think we had a great match today,” Mathieu sportingly suggested afterwards. “I think we played some good points so I’m really happy.
“The event is great. I didn’t see much of the city as it’s my first time in Liverpool, but maybe I’ll come back to see the nightlife for a few days!”
Massu, however, admitted that he struggled to adapt to the grass.
“Mathieu played really well, I think the last time I played on a grass court was in 2007, I like it but I need to practice more to know how to play here,” he said. “I want to say thank you, it’s my first time here, this exhibition had a lot of people here, the crowd today was full, we had a good time and hopefully I can come back. I like to play in England so see you soon!”
In the women’s final Canadian junior Bouchard was a level above Ulrikke Eikeri
The Norwegian had only just scraped through to the final on games won throughout the tournament.
Her +5 record for games won edged out Romania’s Ana Bogdan and Liverpool’s Amy Askew.
Bouchard came into the final full of confidence having beaten Eikeri the night before and in the final of the ITF Junior Uruguay Bowl tournament in March and broke in the very first game of the match.
She threatened to go 3-0 ahead but for an impressive fightback from Eikeri to hold serve.
The Norwegian 17-year-old built on that resistance with a break in the next game, levelling the match at 2-2 and showing that she could live with the power of the 16-year-old.
However, Bouchard’s consistency from the back of the court made all the difference, breaking twice more to take the first set 6-3.
The second set was a closer affair, with Eikeri settling into her service games and making it 3-3. But the Norwegian’s game deserted her when it mattered most, as Bouchard broke at the third attempt to take a 5-3 lead and serve for the match.
Bouchard, who won the Girl’s Singles Championship at the Pan-American Closed ITF event last year, showed her class once again, surviving a late fight back to hold serve and become women’s champion for 2010.
“I’m really excited; me and my coach left the players dinner early last night so I could get sleep and we could prepare for today,” said Bouchard.
“It’s been a long career. I’ve played tennis for 11 years already, train most days of the week and I’m travelling a lot. But I really enjoy it and it’s worth it.”
Meanwhile, Eikeri remained as gracious as ever in defeat.
“It was a good match but she played a little too good for me today,” she said. “It’s hard, she takes the ball early and has a lot of power. She played great.”
Bouchard joins a prestigious list of players to have won the title in Liverpool. The 2008 champion, Caroline Wozniacki, is now ranked number three in the world and last year’s winner, Michelle Larcher de Brito, is up against Serena Williams in the first round of Wimbledon today.