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Stout retains US crown

James Stout of Bermuda retained his United States singles title yesterday in Chicago when he beat world number two and second seed, Will Hopton, 3-1 in a 90 minute final.

Stout, the reigning world, US and British racquets champion, was weary after a hectic four-day tournament as he won his sixth US Open singles title.

Having won the first game comfortably 15-4, Stout lost the second game 15-10 as his opponent made a greater effort to seize the initiative and attack at every opportunity. In the third game Stout resumed control, although it looked as though Hopton would mount a comeback as he moved from 3-10 down to 5-10 before Stout took the game 15-5 after only 17 minutes. That served to quieten the partisan gallery as Hopton is based at the Chicago club.

Stout got off to a strong start in the fourth game, leading 4-0, and 7-1 before Hopton got into his stride. He recovered to 3-9 down, and then 6-12 down before he faulted on his served. Stout, who is based at the Racquet and Tennis Club, Manhattan, used that opportunity to finish the game with a score of 15-6, and claim the match.

Despite Hopton's attempts to pick up the pace and attack, generally Stout was able to cope with whatever Hopton threw at him. Stout's languid and effortless movement around the court and consistent ability to play winning drives from the centre of the court into the back corners made it look as if he did not feel threatened by Hopton's challenge. However, this was the first time Hopton has managed to take a game off him in tournament play.

Stout later added the doubles titles as he and partner Jonathan Larken, the world number nine, were on court to contest the final against the third seeds, Alex Titchener-Barrett and Christian Portz. Given that Stout and Larken are a new pairing, whereas their opponents, the reigning British Open doubles champions, will be challenging for the world doubles title against James Coyne and Will Hopton in May, the odds favoured the third-seeded pair.

That was confirmed in the first game which Titchener-Barrett and Portz comfortably won 15-6. However, after the break, Stout and Larken returned with a new game plan which they stuck to ruthlessly, levelling the match with a 15-0 scoreline. They continued strongly in the third game, and built up a 9-2 lead before Larken's mobility was hampered by calf problems.

Titchener-Barrett and Portz's confidence grew and they recovered to establish a lead of 13-11 before Stout and Larken levelled the score at 13-all and their opponents chose ‘set three', to play to 16 points. At 15-13 it looked as though Stout and Larken were home free, but they lost service and their opponents levelled the score at 15-all to serve for the game.

Luckily, after Titchener-Barrett and Portz were put out without scoring, Stout and Larken made no mistake in getting the one point they needed to claim the game 16-15. The fourth game was the opposite of the third, with Titchener-Barrett and Portz building an apparently unassailable lead of 10-1, mainly on the back of some desultory shot-making and tired-looking errors from Stout.

At that point Stout and Larken decided to make a last stand to avoid having to play a fifth game. In one hand they went from 10-1 down to lead 11-10 with some inspired services, attacking play and kill shots. Although they lost service at that point, they put out their opponents without conceding any further points, and then closed out the match by winning the fourth game 15-10. The 3-1 victory was a remarkable recovery by the unfancied pair and the win marked Stout's third US Open doubles title.

Yesterday's play came on the back of a busy Saturday which saw Stout and Larken beat fifth seeds Tom Billings and Richard Owen 3-1 at lunchtime. They beat the current world doubles champions, James Coyne and Will Hopton 3-2 in a gripping two-hour semi-final in the early evening. In-between those two matches Stout beat fifth seed James Coyne 3-0 (15-10, 15-0, 15-1) in the semi-finals of the singles event.

US champion: James Stout

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Published March 09, 2015 at 9:00 am (Updated March 09, 2015 at 2:24 am)

Stout retains US crown

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