Goodall comes good on finals day

AFTER an outstanding week of tennis, the Gotelee & Goldsmith East of England Championships drew to a close yesterday in fitting style, as Britain's Joshua Goodall marched to victory in the men's singles.

AFTER an outstanding week of tennis, the Gotelee & Goldsmith East of England Championships drew to a close yesterday in fitting style, as Britain's Joshua Goodall marched to victory in the men's singles.

Basingstoke-based Goodall captivated the gathered Felixstowe crowd with a shock 6-4 5-7 6-4 victory over the hard-hitting Australian No. 2 seed Luke Bourgeois.

It was to be a miserable day for the Australians as Trudi Musgrave was comprehensively beaten in the ladies' final by Russia's Olga Poutchkova.

Despite the ladies' event attracting higher-ranked players, it was the men's final that was to be the true centrepiece of the afternoon. It wasn't until the ninth game that the chance of a break of serve arose, and Goodall wasted no time in drawing first blood. Offered two break points by some loose Bourgeois volleying, Goodall fired a tremendous passing shot down the line to register the first break. The No. 6 seed then held serve comfortably with an ace as he began to find his best form.

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Bourgeois, who failed to create a single break point in the first set, seemed stunned and was soon under pressure again, serving a double fault to offer Goodall three break points. The Brit wasted two, but with the third, blasted a return at the feet of Bourgeois to take the opening game of the set.

Bourgeois, who hadn't dropped a single set on his way to the final, reacted in the manner the crowd had become accustomed to, by launching six aces in his next two service games. This seemed to unsettle Goodall, who began to show signs of frustration at 4-3 up, making three rare unforced errors to surrender his break.

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As Bourgeois sensed an opportunity to draw level at a set all, Goodall's ground strokes became increasingly erratic, with the youngster producing moments of magic and madness in equal measure. Having saved five set points, Goodall was finally beaten by an imperious return winner from Bourgeois, who now surely looked the favourite.

Surprisingly however, it was Goodall who began the final set the stronger, finding a great angle to whip the ball past the stranded Bourgeois to set up a break point. The Aussie went back to basics though, smashing two more aces to rescue his service game.

Despite the fact that Bourgeois sent down an incredible 24 aces over the course of the match, Goodall seemed to be dealing with his explosive serving remarkably well - and so it proved in the fourth game, as two astonishing return winners gave him a crucial break.

Whereas in the second set Goodall failed to take his chance, this time it was Bourgeois, who lost his nerve as his opponent served for the title, tamely chipping the ball into the net to surrender the match 6-4 5-7 6-4.

Goodall thoroughly deserved the standing ovation that ensued, having produced a phenomenal performance to beat a player who many people believed would be too strong for him.

The win will have tasted twice as sweet for Goodall after he and his doubles partner Ross Hutchins had been beaten by Bourgeois and Lee Childs in the doubles final the previous day.

After his singles win, Goodall was understandably delighted, but insisted that the result was anything but a surprise.

“This is my first £15,000 tournament win, which is a great achievement for me, but I knew that I could play on grass and I've beaten a lot of higher-ranked players recently so I didn't really feel that he (Bourgeois) was the favourite,” he said.

The stage had earlier been set for the men's final by a delightful performance from Russian No. 1 seed Poutchkova, as she beat Trudi Musgrave in the women's final.

Musgrave, who had won the doubles title the previous day with partner Christina Wheeler, was simply outclassed by the 18-year-old as she slumped to a 6-2 6-1 defeat.

The promising young Russian eased her way through the first set, aided by a series of unforced errors from her opponent. Poutchkova stroked the ball around elegantly, while Musgrave huffed and puffed but was often let down by errant strokes from the back of the court.

Musgrave was able to break the Poutchkova serve in the second set but it proved to be only a brief act of defiance as she increasingly struggled to retain her own service games.

Poutchkova played some sublime tennis at times and her awesome power from the baseline proved to be too much for an unseeded player ranked more than 300 places lower than the champion.

Afterwards, the glamorous young Russian had nothing but kind words for her opponent and felt that the final was the moment when she finally played her best tennis after a slow start to the tournament.

“I'm pleased with my performance. My first round match wasn't very good, but after that I got stronger and stronger, but the wind was very difficult,” she said.

Poutchkova now travels to Luxembourg to compete in a clay-court tournament while fellow champion Josh Goodall will continue to play the British grass court circuit. The future looks bright for both of them and after a week of exceptional tennis, the future looks even brighter for the East of England Championships.

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