LOS ANGELES, AP
Tommy Haas defeated Nicolas Kiefer 7-6 (6), 6-4 to win the Mercedes-Benz Cup in the first all-German ATP Tour final in 10 years.
Haas joined Jimmy Connors as the only unseeded winners of the tournament since the Open era began in 1968. Connors won the 1973 title over Tom Okker in the only other final between unseeded players.
It was Haas’ second title of the year after he missed all of 2003 with a right shoulder injury that eventually required two surgeries. He defeated Andy Roddick in May for the U.S. Clay Court Championship.
Before his January return to the tour, Haas hadn’t played a match since October 2002.
Sunday’s final featured two former top-four players seeking to regain their form. Haas’ highest ranking was second in May 2002; Kiefer was fourth in January 2000.
Kiefer blew a 4-2 lead in the first set and failed to cash in on two set points. He led 5-1 in the tiebreaker before Haas won seven of the final eight points to take the set.
Haas broke Kiefer at 15-40 to take a 2-1 lead in the second set. Haas survived a break point on his serve — the only one against him in the set — for a 4-2 lead. Kiefer held to trail 5-4 before Haas closed out the victory with a 40-love service game, punctuated by a backhand winner up the line.
Kiefer is 0-3 in finals this year, having previously lost in Scottsdale, Arizona, and Memphis. His last title was four years ago in Hong Kong.
Haas and Kiefer, who both will represent Germany at next month’s Olympics in Athens, embraced at the net.
The last all-German final was between Markus Zoecke and Hendrik Dreekman in 1994 in Sun City, South Africa.
The tournament was the first in the U.S. Open Series Bonus Challenge, which links the performance of players in 10 designated tournaments to bonus prize money at next month’s U.S. Open. Haas earned 35 points and Kiefer 24.
Losing semifinalists Cyril Saulnier and Jeff Morrison received 15 points each. Losing quarterfinalists Andre Agassi, Mardy Fish, Wesley Moodie and Greg Rusedski earned eight points each.