Haas and Querrey Highlight LA; Beck and Bellucci Make Finals in Gstaad
LA Tennis Open—Los Angeles
American Sam Querrey will receive his grandest challenge to date, post-Wimbledon, when he takes on tournament No. 1 seed Tommy Haas for a place in the finals of the LA Open.
Querrey produced a sensational effort in dismissing No. 4 seed Dudi Sela on Friday night 6-3, 7-5.
The win for the Samurai consisted of 93 percent of his first serve points won, nine aces, and two breaks of serve. Querrey did not panic at any time throughout the encounter, which lasted one hour and 16 minutes.
Often times, when a player records two breaks of serve in a two-set match, and his opponent does not receive a single break point opportunity throughout the contest, that is usually an indication for a routine day at the office.
Sela attempted to impose himself in the service games of Querrey, but came up second to the velocity of his Californian opponent.
Sela’s “Hebrew Hammers,” and Querrey’s “Samurai Club,” owned the stage at Straus Stadium, cheering for their selected pedigrees to the highest degree.
Sela had the following to say about the fans, as well as returning the serve of Querrey.
“I thought we both played a good match. The fans were very loud and the atmosphere was very nice. It is tough to play against Querrey. If you lose one service game the set is pretty much over; it is very hard to break his serve.”
Querrey’s next opponent, Tommy Haas dispatched the “sometimes” formidable challenge of No. 8 seed Marat Safin.
The 7-6 (7-3), 6-3 victory in favor of the German featured a key first set victory in his pocket, and a steam-roll of sorts in set two. At this stage, Marat is not looking to dig-deep to win matches.
Safin came out blazing in the opening set, but fell apart in the ‘breaker. Falling behind a quick mini-break would be all she wrote for the soon-to-be retired Russian.
Haas was pleased with his efforts throughout.
“Overall, we played in tough conditions. At night, it’s tough to control the ball, but in the end, there are no excuses. Playing against Safin is not easy. First, he is a good friend, and second, he’s only playing in eight more tournaments, so he is more relaxed.”
“I played a pretty good tie break during the first set. The first five games of the second set were really tough, but then I was able to go up 3-2 and gain momentum. The first set was frustrating with a lot of break points, and I had five to six opportunities to gain momentum.”
Haas and Querrey have met four times on the ATP World Tour, with the German leading 3-1. Querrey did win the pairs last encounter earlier this year in Memphis, in straight sets.
Elsewhere, surprise semi-finalists Carsten Ball and Leonardo Mayer will battle each other for a place in their first ATP level final.
Ball came up with a another upset win over fellow countryman John Isner 6-4, 6-4 on Saturday, and Mayer benefited from No. 2 seed Mardy Fish withdrawing before taking the court with an oblique strain. Fish hopes to return to action next week in Washington.
What a truly fantastic week for Cartsen Ball.
After only playing one tour level match throughout the 2009 season, the American who plays for Australia has a realistic chance of reaching his maiden ATP World Tour final.
Ball’s resume to date includes success at the Futures level, as well as the Challengers circuit.
However, when put against the big boys, the Newport Beach resident has assimilated himself quite comfortably to the task at hand.
Carsten, the son of former Aussie player Syd Ball, will be hoping to follow in the footsteps of his father. Syd Ball was a finalist at the 1974 Australian Open in doubles.
Ball’s success (once again, what a great name for a tennis player), can not be overshadowed by the competent and productive week of his semifinal opponent, Leonardo Mayer.
Mayer will also be attempting to keep the LA Open in the hands of an Argentine, after countrymen Juan Martin del Potro captured the title a year ago.
Mayer has achieved a greater degree of success throughout the year than Ball, but has never been in a better situation to reach a Tour level final. Mayer’s year has included raising his ranking from No. 113 at the start of the year, to its current position of No. 60.
In terms of results, Mayer has posted wins over Carlos Moya (Acapulco), and James Blake (French Open) towards his highest defeated opponents. The Argentine also displayed his comfort on grass-courts earlier this year by making the quarterfinals in Eastbourne (l. Dancevic).
Mayer and Ball have never met on the ATP World Tour, with both youngsters holding the tools to progress to the finals.
Gstaad, Swizerland—Allianz Suisse Open Gstaad
Upsets galore have been the name of the game throughout Gstaad this week. With seven of the eight seeded players dusted before the semifinals, the likelihood of a unseeded champion in Gstaad is almost certain.
The highest remaining player in the event, No. 3 seed Igor Andreev (the defending finalist), would be the favorite from here on in.
However, the relative struggles of the Russian continued today when he was bounced from the tournament in convincing fashion, at the hands of qualifier Tomaz Bellucci, 6-4, 7-5.
Bellucci’s road to the final four has consisted of a resounding victory over tournament top seed Stan Wawrinka in the second round.
A retirement by No. 6 Nicolas Kiefer (after Kiefer was leading one set to love in that match) in the quarterfinals meant that Bellucci would be playing with house money for the remainder of the week.
The stern challenge by Andreev would be met toe-to-toe by Bellucci throughout the one hour and 38 minute encounter, propelling the Brazilian towards his second tour final of ‘09.
Bellucci’s straight set win over Andreev featured 75 percent of his first serve points won, two aces, and two breaks of serve.
By contrast, Andreev was not able to capitalize on his lone break point opportunity, failing to return to his final position of a year ago.
Bellucci’s opponent on Sunday will be another man who will be searching for his first ATP World Tour title, Andreas Beck. The German prevented an all-Brazilian final from taking place by defeating 31-year-old journeyman Marcos Daniel 7-6 (7-3), 6-3.
Beck’s year-to-date climb in the rankings has featured wins over Gilles Simon and Juan Monaco (both in Monaco). His current position of No. 51 will surely increase after this week in Gstaad.
The 23-year-old advanced to the finals in Switzerland on the strength of 89 percent of his first serve points won, seven aces, and one break of serve.
Beck and Bellucci have shown equal strength on the clay throughout the week, and should contest a high quality affair on Sunday. The championship match will be the first battle between the two players.
Umag, Croatia—ATP Studena Croatian Open
The hot streak of Spaniard Juan Carlos Ferrero continued today in Umag, with the former world No. 1 reaching his second ATP World Tour final of the year by defeating Italian Andreas Seppi 6-1, 6-7 (1-7), 7-5 .
Ferrero’s improved play throughout the last three months has been attributed to his improved fitness, and the willingness to play within himself.
Often times when tennis players are struggling, they attempt to vary their true game-styles and forgo the shots and patterns which took them to success.
Ferrero’s kick serve and killer forehand have once again become the focal points of his game, and it showed today with a hard fought two hour and 38 minute victory over his Italian opponent.
Seppi’s rock solid ground-strokes which are a far cry from his highly discussed weak serve, allowed the No. 7 to be competitive throughout. The Italian captured the drawn-out second set, in the hopes of momentum in set three.
Seppi’s career highlight remains his heroic efforts in reaching the semifinals in Hamburg Masters in 2008, losing to Roger Federer. The 25-year-old narrowly missed out on contesting his first tour final of ‘09.
The No. 5 seeded Spaniard will sit back and await the winner of today's second semifinal between No. 1 seed Nikolay Davydenko, and No. 4 seed Jurgen Melzer.
Davydenko advanced to the semifinals by defeating Simone Bolelli 7-6 ( 12-10), 6-1 on Friday, and Melzer progressed to the final four after saving four match points against home-country favorite Ivan Ljubicic 4-6, 7-6(3), 6-3.
Melzer would withstand 10 aces, and 75 percent of Ljubicic’s first serve points won in order to progress to his first semifinal of 2009.
Melzer’s year had previously been highlighted by three quarterfinal finishes.
Davydenko will take a 4-1 head-to-head lead into his encounter with Melzer, with the Austrian winning the pair's last encounter earlier this year at the Masters event in Roma.
Davydenko will also be attempting to reach his second consecutive tour final in as many weeks. The Russian captured his 15th tour title last weekend in Hamburg, Germany.
Please check back, I will have a finals wrap-up from Los Angeles; Gstaad, Switzerland; Umag, Croatia. Cheers.
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