The last time Marcel Granollers came to Texas, he was part of Spain’s Davis Cup team that took on the United States in Austin.
While Granollers and teammate Fernando Verdasco lost their doubles match to Bob and Mike Bryan in that match in 2011, Spain defeated the U.S. and went on to win the Davis Cup championship.
Fast-forward almost five years and Granollers, a 29-year-old journeyman from Barcelona, made a dominating return to the Lone Star State, breezing to the championship of the Irving Tennis Classic with a 6-1, 6-1 victory over defending champion Aljaz Bedene of Great Britain on a sunny, but chilly, Sunday afternoon at the Four Seasons Resort and Club.
It was the kind of tennis Granollers was hoping to play when he decided to stop off in Texas after losing to No. 2-ranked Andy Murray 6-4, 7-6 (3) in the second round last week in Indian Wells, Calif.
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After losing in Indian Wells, I wanted to come here to play as many matches as I can. I know this is a very tough Challenger, a lot of good players, so it’s very good for my confidence to go to Miami with this type of win.
Granollers lost only three games in his final two matches of the ATP Challenger in Las Colinas. He defeated Ivan Dodig of Croatia 6-0, 6-1 in the semifinals Saturday, and won the first five games Sunday before the No. 51-ranked Bedene got on the board.
The Slovenia-born Bedene, who defeated American Tim Smyczek in last year’s final, called for a trainer at 5-0 and motioned to his chest, but did not appear to receive treatment. He came out and held serve at 5-1, but Granollers finished off the set.
Bedene held serve in the first game of the second set, but Granollers finished the match the way he started, ripping off six consecutive games to end it in just under an hour.
Granollers, ranked No. 92 but with a career-high of No. 19, played much closer to the latter. He didn’t face a break point, and played clean, almost error-free tennis. He won 85 percent of his first-serve points and 88 percent of second-serve points.
“I always try to play like this, but it is not always possible,” Granollers said. “But I’m really happy with the way I played this week. I faced a match point in the second round [in a 1-6, 6-2, 7-5 victory over Mischa Zverev] and after that I relaxed and I played my best tennis.”
Granollers lost only three games in his final two matches and did not face a break point Sunday.
Now it’s on to Miami for the Masters 1000 event, where Granollers hopes he can take advantage of the Texas-size boost in confidence he gained this week in Irving.
“After losing in Indian Wells, I wanted to come here to play as many matches as I can,” he said. “I know this is a very tough Challenger, a lot of good players, so it’s very good for my confidence to go to Miami with this type of win.”
Another pair headed to Miami on a winning note are former Texas Wild player Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi of Pakistan and Austin resident Nicholas Monroe, who defeated Chris Guccione of Australia and Andre Sa of Brazil 6-2, 5-7, 10-4 in the doubles final.
I was treated like family there, so it’s great to be back and win a title.
Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi on winning doubles
Qureshi, ranked No. 50 in doubles with a career-high of No. 8 with 11 career ATP titles, said it was good to be back in Texas.
“I was treated like family there, so it’s great to be back and win a title,” said Qureshi, who was playing where he competed in World TeamTennis during the 2013-14 seasons.
Monroe and Qureshi cruised through the first set and were up a break in the second, but Sa and Guccione broke back, then broke Monroe in the 12th game to win the set. Qureshi, one of the best reflex volleyers in the business, and Monroe took control in the tiebreaker, winning five of the first six points, then stringing together four more points to go up 9-3. Two points later, Monroe hit a volley into the alley past Sa to win it.
Rusty Hall: 817-390-7816, @RustyHall10s