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Almagro tops Baker to win second straight Nice crown



Nice, France (Sports Network) - Spain's Nicolas Almagro captured the Nice Open for a second straight year with a straight-set win over American Brian Baker in Saturday's final.

The third-seeded Almagro needed just 70 minutes in a 6-3, 6-2 victory, earning his 12th career title and second of 2012. He also won on the Sao Paulo clay back in February and will head to the French Open next week with some momentum.

However, last year's title in Nice didn't do much for Almagro in Paris, as he lost to Lukasz Kubot in the first round. He will open his stay at Roland Garros this year against Paolo Lorenzi.

Almagro opened an advantage Saturday by winning the final three games of the first set, then broke Baker twice in the second.

"Today, was one of those matches you want to keep in your mind for the rest of the season because I couldn't have played much better," noted Almagro. "Today was amazing. I am happy with my form, my tennis and my team. We will aim to keep working hard, so I play, in future, as I did today."

The loss ended Baker's unlikely run to his first career ATP World Tour final.

"It was a great week," said Baker, who earned his spot in the main draw as a qualifier. "Every time you go onto court you want to win. I am a competitor, I hate losing. But, when you look at the week as a whole, it has been an unbelievable week. I hoped to qualify at the start of the week and win a match or two before going to Roland Garros. Obviously, I did much better than that."

Ranked 216th in the world, Baker is trying to come back from numerous injuries that derailed a once-promising career in the mid-2000s. He was sidelined for nearly six years, returning to competitive tennis last July after undergoing elbow reconstruction and three hip surgeries, to go along with a sports hernia procedure.

"[Baker] lost the final today, but he is back, he is playing very good," added Almagro. "I think if he plays as he did this week, then he will win many, many tournaments."

Baker was given a wild card entry into the French Open and will meet Belgian veteran Xavier Malisse in the first round.

Almagro, who improved to 12-5 all-time in title matches, earned a first prize of $90,000.

05/26 12:41:54 ET