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Corretja Takes Dubai Open Title

February 15, 1998

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) _ Alex Corretja claimed his first career hard court title Sunday, defeating fellow Spaniard Felix Mantilla 7-6, 6-1 in the final of the Dubai Open.

Corretja and Mantilla, best friends and practice partners, were closely matched in the first set, with several of baseline rallies extending to 20 strokes or more.

``This is the most important win in my career. This is hardcourt. This is special,″ Corretja said.

Mantilla seemed to have the edge early, dropping just four points in his first four service games. But Corretja took control in the tiebreaker with a 7-0 sweep.

Corretja, who won $142,000 broke in the second set to lead 2-0. Although Mantilla pulled back the break in the next game, he was broken again for 3-1 and never had a problem.

Corretja’s best previous hardcourt match came in the 1996 U.S. Open, when he held a match point against Pete Sampras.

``That day I thought more of myself, and the match point I lost against Sampras won me the match today,″ he said.

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