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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Underdog Defeats Kafelnikov in Milan

APMartin Verkerk kissing his trophy following his victory over Yevgeny Kafelnikov 6-4, 5-7, 7-5 in the finals of the Milan Indoors tournament Sunday.
MILAN, Italy -- Martin Verkerk of the Netherlands served 30 aces Sunday as he captured his first ATP career title in his first final on the main draw, stunning fifth-seeded Yevgeny Kafelnikov 6-4, 5-7, 7-5 in the $380,000 Milan Indoors tournament.

Verkerk relied on his powerful serve, backhand passing shots and a few lapses of his opponent in key points to pocket a top prize of $52,000 and 50 points for the ATP Champions race.

The unseeded Dutchman, ranked 90th in the ATP entry list, collapsed to the ground overcome with emotion after the Russian player netted a return, handing him the victory at IOL Arena.

"This is a little bit of dream for me, winning a big event like Milan," he said of the win, decided by a single break in each set. "I beat good players this week, and a great player like Kafelnikov today. This win pays off for two years of hard work and five hours of training a day."

Verkerk, who had won two ATP challenger titles in 2002, clinched the Milan championship after only eight months on the main draw.

He earned a year-end best No. 86 in the ranking last year after reaching his first quarterfinal in Indianapolis.

Sunday's 30 aces improved his week total in Milan to 109. He lost his serve only twice in the tournament.

"I dedicate this victory to my girlfriend Elselyn and my family, who supported me at difficult times of my career," said Verkerk, who added that he can no longer claim clay as his favorite surface following the indoor win.

Kafelnikov, who had a disappointing 2002 in ATP play but a successful Davis Cup final with Russia beating France, said the Dutchman was very consistent.

"I expected a tough match. Generally he played better, he's very talented," Kafelnikov said.

The loss prevented Kafelnikov from clinching a would-be 27th career singles title on his first ATP final in four months.

The No.1 player in the world in 1999, the Russian has won at least one ATP title per year since 1994.