Sat, Jan 08, 2005 - Page 19 News List

Slovakia, Argentina about to face off

PRO TENNIS TOUR Argentina qualified for the final Thursday when Germany's Tommy Haas retired hurt from his singles match and Germany later defaulted what would have been the deciding doubles match

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In Friday's semifinals, Federer -- who has not lost since the second round of the Athens Olympics, will meet No. 8 Nikolay Davydenko of Russia. Davydenko rallied from a set down to upset third seed Sebastien Grosjean of France 2-6, 6-3, 6-2 in their quarterfinal.

After being completely outplayed in the first set, Davydenko broke Grosjean three times each in the second and third sets.

Davydenko served only two aces and prevailed in in two hours.

"I made a lot of mistakes in the match today," Davydenko said. "I think the windy conditions forced me to make mistakes. I hope I don't repeat such mistakes against Federer. We have played three times and I have lost all those matches against him."

In the other semifinal on Friday, last year's losing finalist Ivan Ljubicic of Croatia will play 2002 French Open champion Albert Costa of Spain.

No. 6 seed Ljubicic advanced by beating Spanish teen Rafael Nadal 6-2, 6-7 (3-7), 6-3 while Costa was leading Fabrice Santoro 6-2, 3-0 when the Frenchman retired because of fatigue.

Paul-Henri Mathieu of France shocked fifth-seeded Dane Kenneth Carlsen 6-3, 7-5 Thursday to enter the quarterfinals of the ATP Tour's Chennai Open, while Belgium's Kristof Vliegen saved two match points to oust sixth-seeded Lu Yen-hsun of Taiwan 1-6, 7-5, 7-6 (6).

Second-seeded Paradorn Srichaphan of Thailand, title winner here in 2003, secured his place in the quarterfinals by outplaying France's Nicolas Devilder 6-3, 6-2.

Returning to the tournament where he suffered an injury that kept him out of competitive tennis for seven months, Mathieu dropped service just once to eliminate Carlsen.

Mathieu, ranked 123rd in the world, had been forced to concede an opening round match to Carlsen in the 2004 Chennai Open after suffering an on-court injury in the second set.

Mathieu, 22, broke the 84th-ranked Carlsen in the sixth game to clinch the opening set. He dropped service in the sixth game of the second set, but broke back in the seventh and 11th games before serving out the match.

"It was a small consolation for the disappointing way in which I bowed out from this event last year, but the seven-month absence after fracturing my wrist was a big setback," Mathieu said.

He noted he was forced to take a four-month break after pulling an abdominal muscle three years ago. "I'm hoping the injuries are behind me now," he said.

Mathieu moves into a quarterfinal encounter against top-seeded defending champion Carlos Moya of Spain, whom he defeated when they last met in the Davis Cup semifinal four months ago.

Spain won the semifinal despite Moya's loss, and went on to clinch the Davis Cup title.

Mathieu said he would "have to serve better than today to give Moya a good match."

Vliegen, 22, rallied from the brink of defeat, saving two match points in the second set where he bounced back from 2-5 down against Lu, placed 87th on the ATP roster.

Lu became the sixth seeded player to be eliminated.

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