NEWPORT, R.I. -- Unseeded Pieter Aldrich, catching fire after a disastrous year so far on the pro tour, defeated Darren Cahill 7-6 (12-10), 1-6, 6-1, Sunday to win the $150,000 Tennis Hall of Fame Championships.
Aldrich, who was ranked 171st in the world going into this lone grass court stop on American circuit, collected $21,600 in winning his first pro title.
Aldrich's five victories this week were his first singles wins on the 1990 tour.
'I came to Newport to try and relax and have fun, to have a vacation week,' said Aldrich, a native of South Africa whose ranking is expected to jump to 117 when the next rankings are announced. 'Maybe I'll go on vacation all the time.'
After winning the lengthy tiebreaker in the first set, Aldrich's serve was broken in the fourth and sixth games of the second set. At 1-2, 30-30, a double-fault by Aldrich began a run in which Cahill won 13 of the final 15 points of the set.
'He played pretty good early in the second set, then great, and maybe I was a little sluggish after the tiebreaker,' said Aldrich, who now lives in Palm Desert, Calif. 'His second set was very good and my third set was very good.'
Aldrich broke Cahill, ranked 86th, in the second and fourth games of the third set along the way to a 5-0 lead, winning nine straight points during one stretch.
'Early in the third he got some good shots in, got on top of me, and that was it,' said Cahill, an Australian who earned $12,720. 'In the third set, I didn't make him play enough balls.'
Cahill, who failed to convert four break points in the first game of the match, said the first set 'was a little shaky for both of us.'
'I thought quite a bit about that,' Cahill said of the opening game. 'Maybe if I had broken him it would have made a difference.'
Cahill fought off four set points in the tiebreaker before losing the set. 'The longer a tiebreaker goes the more important it is to win it,' Aldrich explained. 'It's demoralizing if you lose it.'
Cahill said getting to a final does not mean much if you lose it.
'The whole point is getting to the final, and go and win it. But he played better today and deserved to win.'