Verdasco defeats Soderling for Barcelona tennis title

BARCELONA: Spain''s fifth seed Fernando Verdasco defeated Swedish second seed Robin Soderling 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 on Sunday to keep the Barcelona claycourt title at home for the eighth straight year.

Crowds at the Real Club de Tenis were treated to yet another local victory as Verdasco upset the better fancied Swede who held a 4-1 margin in their series going into the final.

Defeat in two hours, three minutes denied Roland Garros finalist Soderling the honour of lifting his country''s first title in Barcelona since Ken Carlsson 22 years ago.

Verdasco followed on from compatriots Carlos Moya (2003), Tommy Robredo (2004) and Rafael Nadal in the five years following as he kept the cup in firmly in Iberian hands.

The last non-Spaniard to win the title was Argentine Gaston Gaudio in 2002. Spain has put a player into 14 straight finals at the club since 1997.

Victory marked the second trophy this season for the ninth-ranked Verdasco, who was beaten a week ago for the Monte Carlo title by Nadal but won indoors in San Jose.

Soderling was playing his first clay week of the season as he builds up for Roland Garros starting on May 23.