American Sweeting claims first ATP Tour title

HOUSTON Sun Apr 10, 2011 6:17pm EDT

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HOUSTON (Reuters) - American wild card Ryan Sweeting completed his unlikely tournament run by capturing the U.S. Clay Court Championship with a 6-4 7-6 victory over Japan's Kei Nishikori on Sunday.

Sweeting, who managed to fend off a set point in the second set, became the first player to win the tournament as a wild card entry since fellow American Mardy Fish in 2006.

"I needed a little help to get in. I want to thank (the tournament) for the opportunity, and for giving me the wild card," Sweeting said during a courtside interview after playing in his first ATP final. "It was a lot of fun. I'm looking forward to coming back and defending the title next year."

Sweeting, who overcame six double faults for the match, did not face a break point in winning the first set but needed to climb out of a 5-4 deficit and a set point to force a tiebreaker in the second set.

The 23-year-old American, born in the Bahamas but a resident of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, will move up to 71st in the world, a career-best ranking.

(Reporting by Jahmal Corner in Los Angeles; Editing by Frank Pingue)

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