IRVING — With the match tied at a set apiece, Jurgen Melzer took his game to the next level, and after eight matches in seven days, Denis Kudla didn’t have the legs to keep up.Melzer, the former No. 8-ranked player in the world, won the first four games of the third set and wrapped up a 6-4, 2-6, 6-1 victory Sunday in the finals of the Dallas Tennis Classic at the Four Seasons Resort & Club in Las Colinas.Melzer, currently ranked No. 48, broke the 20-year-old Kudla’s serve for only the second time in the match in the second game of the third set, and when the 31-year-old Austrian broke Kudla again two games later, it was only a matter of time before he would raise the trophy in the $120,000 ATP Challenger event.“I refocused [after losing the second set] and I told myself it’s maximum 45 minutes of focus now, and I got off to a very good start,” Melzer said. “I had a little bit of a shaky service game at 3-love, but in the end, while I think I didn’t play my best tennis for two sets, I was pretty happy with the third set.”Kudla reached the final after playing through qualifying earlier in the week.“It was a long week, and my legs just weren’t with me today,” said Kudla, a 20-year-old American who entered the tournament ranked No. 160. “I’m pretty happy with my week. You just have to look at the positives and move forward.”Kudla said he felt Melzer step up his game in the third set.“He did [pick it up], and I missed a little too much as well, but he played well,” Kudla said. “He really went for it and took his chances and it paid off for him.”The championship is Melzer’s first since Memphis last year. He advanced to the final earlier this year at the ATP Tour 250 event in Zagreb, Croatia. Melzer said there was no difference between the quality of tennis played at this week’s ATP Challenger-level event.“If you have seen the draw, it could be any [ATP Tour] 250 tournament,” Melzer said. “I’m very happy with the way I’ve been playing here and I’ve got five matches under my belt. I’ve got confidence, and as you know, confidence is everything. Getting ready for Miami is very important, so I’m looking forward to it.”After receiving the trophy, Melzer took less than an hour before returning to the court with Philipp Petzschner to complete a finals sweep by beating Eric Butorac of Rochester, Minn., and Dominic Inglot of Great Britain 6-3, 6-1.Melzer and Petzschner, the 2010 Wimbledon and 2011 U.S. Open champions, overpowered the No. 2 seeds by winning eight consecutive games before Inglot held serve at 5-1 in the second set. Melzer then served out the match to cap his day.
Rusty Hall, 817-390-7816 Twitter: @RustyHall10s