Tennis: Bailey's persistence helps him to build on Wimbledon: British No 3 wins first Challenger title

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The Independent Online
CHRIS BAILEY built on his impressive performances at Wimbledon when he won his first Challenger title yesterday. Bailey, the British No 3, came from behind to beat the fourth seed, Mark Knowles of the Bahamas, 3-6, 7-5, 6-3 in the final of the Bristol Challenger Trophy at Redland.

Bailey's win earned him 50 computer points which should push his world ranking inside the top 200 when the new ATP Tour rankings are released today. On Saturday Bailey had beaten the British No 1, Jeremy Bates, 6-1, 6-4 in the semi-finals.

For nearly an hour yesterday a British victory looked unlikely as Bailey struggled against his opponent's serve. It was not until the 11th game of the second set that he managed to break Knowles's delivery for the first time to lead 6-5. With that game under his belt the Norfolk player confidently held serve to love, levelling the match at one set all.

With a capacity crowd of more than 1,000 cheering him on, Bailey broke serve again to lead 4-3 and took the match when Knowles served a double fault. 'I just kept hanging in there to 5-5 in the second set and it paid off,' Bailey said. 'I wasn't playing badly but he was playing very well.'

Bailey goes to Newcastle for the Northern Electric Open, which begins tomorrow, brimming with confidence. 'Now I would like to aim for a place in the top 100. This is a huge win for me and it's even better coming on the back of Wimbledon.

'It showed that Wimbledon was no fluke and hopefully now I will go from strength to strength.'

Sergi Bruguera, the 22-year-old top seed from Spain, retained the Swiss Open title when he defeated Karel Novacek, of the Czech Republic, 6-4, 6-4 in the final of the Swiss Open in Gstaad yesterday. Bruguera had a busy day, winning his rain-delayed semi-final against the German, Marc Goellner. The match was washed out on Saturday with the score at 3-3 in the first set but Bruguera reeled off nine consecutive games to win 6-3, 6-0 in under an hour. Bruguera, playing in his first tournament since winning the French Open, has now won 15 successive matches.

Radka Bobkova, unseeded from the Czech Republic, upset the top seed from France, Mary Pierce, to win the Palermo women's tournament in Italy yesterday. Pierce, No 14 in the world, was beaten 6-3, 6-2 by her opponent who is ranked No 156.

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