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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Johansson Takes Another in St. Pete

APJohansson raising his trophy after winning the final against Germany's Nicolas Kiefer on Sunday in St. Petersburg.
ST. PETERSBURG -- Second-seeded Thomas Johansson of Sweden swept aside Nicolas Kiefer of Germany to take the St. Petersburg Open title in Sunday afternoon's final.

With a gritty and consistent display, the Swedish world No. 15 wrapped up the 1 1/2-hour final with a booming ace to win 6-4, 6-2 and take his first title of the season at the city's Sportivno-Kontsertny Complex.

"I really enjoy playing in St. Petersburg -- the [hard] courts really suit my game," Johansson said in the post-match news conference after taking his ninth career title and second in St. Petersburg.

Fifth-seeded Kiefer, playing in fits and starts, showed only flashes of his brilliance in the quarterfinals, where he dispatched Russian top seed and world No. 8 Nikolai Davydenko 6-1, 6-1.

"I didn't play my game. I could step up my level of play," Kiefer said after the match.

The first crack's in Kiefer's game appeared with the score 2-2 in the first set. A rally ended with the German missing an easy smash at the net, but he held his nerve to win the game and keep the set on serve.

The respite, however, was short-lived as Johansson began to take the game from the erratic Kiefer. The Swede took the German to break point at 3-3, and duly converted after Kiefer again missed at the net. An enraged Kiefer smashed the ball into the upper stands and was cited for a code violation by the umpire.

The German world No. 29 worked himself into position to break back in the final game of the set at 5-4 with two break points, but Johansson stepped it up a gear and produced a stunning backhand passing shot to take the set with Kiefer stuck at the net.

"I had many break points, but if you can't take those chances, you can't win," Kiefer said.

Unhappy with his performance so far, Kiefer left the court to change his shirt. The break didn't help.

Johansson broke Kiefer in the first game of the second set and battled to a 4-1 lead.

Kiefer rallied, gaining three break points as Johansson's returns found the net. But three consecutive unforced errors, topped off with a Johansson ace, gave the game to the Swede.

Kiefer easily won his last service game to love, including two aces. For a moment, it seemed an unlikely comeback was in the cards, as Kiefer fought to stay in the match and gained a break point with a majestic passing shot.

But he failed to convert, instead thrusting the ball into the net. Another unforced error gave Johansson match point, and a pinpoint power serve -- his 10th ace of the match -- gave the Swede a deserved win.

Johansson, winner of the tournament in 1997, praised his opponent afterwards: "I don't think the scores are right -- we had a really tough match today. [Kiefer] is very talented and never gives up."

Only Johansson and Russia's Marat Safin, out with an injury that will keep him out of the season-ending Paris Masters, have won the $1 million event twice.