Tennis: Tomas Berdych battles past Richard Gasquet to retain Shenzhen Open title

Shenzhen, China (Reuters) - Tomas Berdych captured his first title of the season when he battled past Richard Gasquet 7-6 (7-5), 6-7 (2-7), 6-3 to clinch the Shenzhen Open for the second successive year on Sunday.

The victory boosted hopes of a seventh-consecutive ATP World Tour final appearance for Berdych, who is currently ninth in the race, just outside the eight qualifying spots for London.

The two players, tied at 7-7 in head-to-head meetings ahead of the final, exchanged breaks early on in the first set, before the big-serving Czech prevailed 7-5 in a tiebreak.

The 31-year-old, who missed the US Open after suffering from appendicitis, continued to heap pressure on Gasquet by securing an early break in the second set, but the third-seeded Frenchman saved two match points to level the contest through another tiebreak.

Playing in his 30th Tour final, Berdych raced to a 5-3 lead without facing a break point in the deciding third set, and eventually held his nerve to secure the 13th ATP title of his career.

"Five weeks ago I was in hospital, now I'm sitting here with the trophy. Things are changing very quickly," Berdych said. "Luckily for me, everything is going well, I'm feeling good, sitting here as a winner. I'm just taking all this as a bonus, that I can play and win some matches."