Fourth seed Fernando Verdasco defeated Nicolas Almagro in an all-Spanish showdown to snap a six-match losing streak in finals and claim the US men's clay court championship title Sunday.
Former world number seven Verdasco earned his first title since 2010 with a 6-3, 7-6 (7/4) victory at the River Oaks Country Club.
"It's been a long time since I've won a singles title," said Verdasco. "It's a very important day for me to win a tournament after a few years and after the injury in my knee the last couple years."
Verdasco hammered four aces and saved six-of-seven break point chances in the match that lasted an hour and 52 minutes.
Verdasco has won seven of 10 career meetings with Almagro.
"I am so tired I don't know if I can talk so much," said Verdasco, who also reached the doubles final.
Almagro made Verdasco work for the victory as he hit eight aces, won 72 percent of his first serve points and saved seven-of-nine break points.
It marked the second year in a row Almagro finished runner-up in Houston, losing last year to John Isner.
Almagro was handed a free pass into the final when American player Sam Querrey was cut down by a back injury in the semi-finals.
"He played a really good match today, and he's the winner," Almagro said of Verdasco.
"It was a battle today, and he really concentrated on his serve. I had many chances and I didn't (take them), and that's the key of the match."