El Aynaoui Falls One Victory Short in Columbia

Published March 13th, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

Argentina's Mariano Puerta capped a remarkable weekend by defeating Younes El Aynaoui of Morocco 6-4, 7-6 to win the $375,000 Colombia Open.  

 

The victory over El Aynaoui, the tournament's second seed and world number 19, followed Saturday's stunning upset of top seed Gustavo Kuerten of Brazil, the world's sixth ranked player. 

 

After winning the final point, Puerta collapsed on the red clay courts and pumped his arms in the air. The Argentinean earned $49,500 for his second career ATP Tour singles title. 

 

It was Puerta's steady groundstrokes that proved to be the difference in Sunday's final. While he could not match the power of El Aynaoui's serve - the Moroccan served up 12 aces to none for Puerta - the Argentinean won the bulk of the long baseline rallies as El Aynaoui's backhanded repeatedly let him down. 

 

Both players have begun the 2000 season in impressive form. El Aynaoui has compiled a 13-5 record thus far, including a semifinal showing in Doha, Qatar and a quarterfinal appearance at the Australian Open. Puerta, who finished last year ranked 119 in the world, had reached the finals in recent tournaments in Mexico City and Santiago, Chile. For the 21-year old southpaw, this was his first tour victory since 1998. 

© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)

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