Roman Borvanov had history in his sights when he stepped on the court at Rogue Valley Swim and Tennis Club Sunday for the men's open singles final of the $17,500 UBS Financial Open and Senior Clay Championships.
And not even the most formidable field in the history of the 12-year event could stand in his way.
The top-seeded Borvanov edged by No. 2 seed Amir Hadad, 5-7, 6-3, 6-4, to become the first repeat men's open singles champion in the tournament's history.
The Beaverton resident and native of Chisinau, Moldova in Eastern Europe received a hefty winning check of $3,000 — the richest payout on the six-stop Pacific Northwest circuit.
"This is good," said Borvanov, 25, who downed Oren Motevassei in last year's final, 7-5, 7-6 (2). "It was a good experience last year, but this year it was even better because the competition was so much better."
For the first time in the tournament, all top eight seeds advanced to the quarterfinals and all four of the higher seeds moved on to Saturday's semifinal round. Borvanov took out Christian Vitulli and Hadad slipped by Medford native Nate Schnugg in semifinal action.
Borvanov and Hadad later teamed up to defeat Schnugg, 18, and his University of Georgia teammate Vitulli in the men's open doubles final Sunday, 7-6 (5), 4-6, 6-3.
Borvanov and Hadad broke serve on Vitulli in the third set to take the match.
"It was a really good match," said RVSTC teaching pro Frank Inn. "Just that one break to end the third set."
"(Borvanov and Hadad) definitely had a little more experience," added Inn.
In other championship matches Sunday, Gregg Furukawa took out Steve Hirons, 6-0, 6-0, in men's 35 singles; Dan Perone defeated Andris Olins, 6-1, 6-2, in men's 45 singles; and Larry Blomquist slipped past Gary Woodring, 2-6, 6-2, 6-4, in men's 65 singles.
In round robin action, Richard Ledgerwood won by default over Ted Werner and Michael Naumes won by injury default over Gale Holt in men's 55 singles. Charles Cochrane and Leo Young paired up to defeat Brad Joelsen and Craig Koessler, 6-3, 3-6, 10-6, in men's 45 doubles, while the tandem of Gary Bowman and Woodring downed Philip Cooper and Neil White in men's 55 doubles, 6-3, 6-0.
The highly competitive field in the men's open singles division made for several top-notch matches at this year's event.
"It's going to be tough to top (next year)," said RVSTC general manager Brian Morse. "Right now our feeling is this is the premiere event on the Pacific Northwest tour."
The UBS Open is the first stop on the PNW circuit, which Morse said makes it difficult to attract more competitors.
"We are going to attempt next year to be the last stop," said Morse. "Seattle has had the finale for over 80 years, but we're going to see if we can bring that here."
The move to the final stop, which would be held in August, would hopefully expand the men's open singles field from the 31 participants this year to possibly as many as 64 in the future.
The level of play shown by Borvanov and Hadad on Sunday will be hard to match, however.
Hadad, an Israeli native and current resident of Budapest, Hungary, was ranked 180th in the ATP rankings at one time. His resumé also includes past victories over Mark Philippoussis and Mario Ancic.
A wrist injury in 2003 forced the 27-year-old out of action for nearly a year and a half. Hadad has since returned to health and is currently the captain of the World Team Tennis Boston Lobsters.
On Sunday, Hadad showcased his big serve, which has been clocked at 140 mph, and powerful stroke against the quicker, more finesse style of Borvanov.
Early on, it was Hadad that gained the advantage by keeping Borvanov away from the net with his strong forehand. He even managed to land his first serve on a few occasions that helped him rally for three straight wins to climb back for the first-set victory.
But Borvanov found his rhythm in the second set.
Hadad evened the second set up at 1-all before Borvanov rattled off three straight wins.
The turning point was Game 5, when Borvanov climbed out of a 15-40 hole to force deuce and eventually claim the winner on a service ace.
Hadad yelled out in frustration and had a brief, angry conversation with himself — one of many times he would scold himself and his racket during the match.
"I started the second set very slow," said Hadad. "He started playing a few good points, then he broke (my serve) and the confidence came for him."
Hadad estimated he landed only 40 percent of his first serves, while guessing Borvanov nailed 80 to 90 percent of his first attempts.
"My serve definitely wasn't the best today," said Hadad, who won $1,500 for his efforts. "This court is very fast — I'm not used to that. I'm used to playing on outdoor surfaces."
Borvanov kept that momentum into the third and decisive set.
He held serve to win Game 2 and tie the set, then broke Hadad in the third game to take the lead for good.
Leading 5-4, Borvanov went up 40-love and sealed the match when Hadad's backhand return after a lengthy exchange splashed into the net.
"I knew I had to keep the points short," said Borvanov. "I had noticed in his earlier matches that he wants to be in charge with his forehand. I thought if I could get him to his backhand he would have trouble with the slice and I could control the point."
Borvanov also felt the crucial Game 5 comeback in the second set was key.
"That was when I turned mentally," he said. "I believe he saw I could fight after that and I wasn't going to go away. That decided the destiny of the match."
Borvanov had a frantic arrival for the opening day on Friday.
He lost to Ivan Miranda of Peru in a match at a future's tournament in Sacramento, Calif., and didn't get on the road until around 2 p.m. After driving nearly five hours to Medford, Borvanov arrived just in time to catch a shower before dispatching his first-round foe in straight sets.
"I got off the court and literally came straight here," Borvanov said. "It was a long drive."
But well worth it.
Reach reporter Kevin Goff at 776-4483, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org