By Steve Galluzzo, special to EmiratesUSOpenSeries.com
LOS ANGELES -- Thirteen was anything but unlucky for Sam Querrey on Sunday afternoon at the Farmers Classic.
The 24-year-old American grew up in Southern California and said he feels more relaxed playing in front of friends and family at the Los Angeles Tennis Center. With his "Samurai" fans out in full force, Querrey rolled by Lithuanian qualifier Ricardas Barankis, 6-0, 6-2, in just 51 minutes to win his hometown event for the third time in four years.
Querrey stretched his winning streak to 13 in a row at UCLA -- an event he missed last summer due to a right shoulder injury. His last loss was in the first round to Mardy Fish in 2007.
"Sometimes it's harder to stay focused when you have a huge lead than it is when you're behind because you expect to have a rough stretch at some point," said Querrey, who won the first set in 19 minutes and built a 3-0 lead in the second. "Today I kept my foot down on the pedal and did a good job concentrating on the break points. I was able to establish my inside-out forehand and tried to make him earn the big points."
It was the most lopsided final in the tournament's 86-year history and the shortest final on the ATP World Tour this year. Querrey not only became the third player in the Open era to win the Los Angeles event at least three times, he moved into a tie for the lead with Andy Roddick in the Emirates Airline US Open Series Bonus Challenge standings. Each has 70 points. Berankis and Gilles Muller of Luxembourg are tied for third at 45 points. The top three men and women in the Challenge standings receive bonus prize money at the US Open.
While Querrey looked relaxed and confident, Berankis was noticeably nervous playing in his first ATP final. He made 19 unforced errors and had only nine winners, compared to 17 winners and nine unforced errors for Querrey, who had eight aces and converted five of his seven break point chances.
"The nerves were there in the first set and I didn't play like I wanted to play," said the 22-year-old Berankis, who admitted fatigue was also factor as he was playing his 13th match in 14 days. "There was a lot going through my head after the first set and I asked my coach how long it took afterwards. Other than that there wasn't much to talk about."
Querrey said he plans on defending his crown next year (July 22-28), when he will try to join Frank Parker, Roy Emerson, Jimmy Connors and Andre Agassi as the only four-time champions. It was Querrey's seventh career ATP title and his first since winning the 2010 Farmers Classic on the same court.
"I played my best match of the week and Ricardas was probably feeling a bit nervous being in his first final, so it was a combination of those two things," said Querrey, whose immediate goal is to add another title at this week's Citi Open in Washington D.C., the fifth event in the Emirates Airline US Open Series. "I've been watching this tournament since I was about 9 or 10 years old and it feels pretty good to be mentioned with some of those other names."
The doubles final pitted the third-seeded British duo of Jamie Delgado and Ken Supski against Belgians Xavier Malisse and Ruben Bemelmans, who were teaming up for the first time in an ATP Tour event. Malisse and Bemelmans prevailed 7-6 (5), 4-6, 10-7 in 1 hour, 31 minutes.
"A lot of these doubles matches come down to one or two points," said Malisse, the first player to win back-to-back Farmers Classic doubles titles with different partners since Jim Pugh in 1991-92. "Ruben is a lefty, which helps, and we made some big reflex volleys and served pretty well. Ruben plays a lot in Europe and I play mostly here in the States, but hopefully we'll be able to hook up again in the future."
Bemelmans hit a backhand volley winner to give the Belgians a commanding 9-5 lead in the 10-point super tiebreaker and they hugged at the service line moments later when Supski's drop volley landed wide.
"It was a lot of fun playing with Xavier [this week] and this gives me a lot of confidence going to Vancouver for a Challenger event next week," said the 24-year-old Bemelmans, who entered the week ranked 121 and emerged triumphant in his ATP World Tour final debut. "I beat [Rajeev] Ram played [John] Isner tough in Atlanta last week and I'm going to try to build off that momentum."
Malisse won the 2011 doubles crown in two tiebreaks with Bahamian Marc Knowles but feared he might have to default this year's semifinal after a knee tendinitis forced him to retire in the second set of Friday's singles quarterfinal against Querrey.
Malisse opted to give it a go Saturday and he and Bemelmans defeated Querrey and recent USC graduate Steve Johnson, 6-4, 6-4, to set up Sunday's meeting with the Englishmen, who fell to Malisse and American Michael Russell, 7-6 (0), 6-4, in the quarterfinals of the BB&T Atlanta Open last week.