Klahn finishes sweep to title
KAANAPALI – Bradley Klahn has always enjoyed Maui, but the island was extra special for him Sunday.
The No. 93 player in the ATP world rankings beat Tsung-Hua Yang 6-2, 6-3 for the title in the Royal Lahaina Challenger at the Royal Lahaina Tennis Ranch in front of about 500 fans at the stadium court, including his mother, Nancy.
“It’s nice out here, work or vacation – I love it out here,” Klahn said. “Maui has always been my favorite island, this just makes it a little sweeter.”
The 2010 NCAA champion as a Stanford sophomore is becoming more and more familiar with the Valley Isle.
“I played in Wailea last year, my Stanford team came out to Hawaii – we were on the Big Island a couple times, we were on Maui one time over Thanksgiving – and I have come out here a couple times on vacation,” Klahn said.
Klahn finished off Yang, a former doubles partner, in 57 minutes, and won $7,200 of the $50,000 purse.
Yang, ranked 274th, beat fourth-seeded Jack Sock in the opening round and second-seeded Tim Smyczek in the semifinals, after a three-set quarterfinal. He won $4,240.
“I knew coming in it was going to be a great match,” Klahn said. “He’s had a great week, getting a lot of good wins, all four, so I was mentally prepared for a battle.”
Denis Kudla and Yasutaka Uchiyama beat Daniel Kosa-kowski and Nicolas Meister 6-3, 6-2 in the doubles final.
Klahn did not lose a set in singles in the event.
“I was really happy with the way I came out and started playing,” he said. “I thought I just kept getting better and better with each match throughout this tournament. I felt really comfortable out there.”
Klahn came to Maui off a four-set loss to 22nd-seeded Grigor Dimnitrov in the Australian Open’s first round.
“I think I put in a great offseason,” Klahn said. “I put in a good three weeks in the preseason, got a lot of work in, fitness and on the court, so I knew going into Australia that I was ready. I had a great three tournaments in Brisbane, Auckland and the Australian Open.
“I felt like I just kept building on that and it carried over this week. I got here a little bit early and got really prepared.”
He was playing a friend in the final.
“It’s a little difficult sometimes, but you are out there to compete and battle and you want to win,” Klahn said. “I was fortunate enough to spend some time with him in Romania – we got to play some doubles together and hang out. It’s nice knowing some people when you are in foreign countries where you don’t know the language or anything.”
Klahn broke in the sixth and 10th games in the first set and then rocketed to a 3-0 lead in the second while losing just two points. Yang closed within 3-2 before Klahn took command again, winning the sixth game of the second set after four deuces.
“It was tough because today he was playing well and it was tough to return his serve,” Yang said. “The courts here, the ball bounces high and he is kind of like a strong player. The ball was really heavy and it’s hard to realize the ball, where it can go. He played good today.”
* Robert Collias is at firstname.lastname@example.org