Mon, Oct 15, 2007 - Page 19 News List

Johansson upsets Blake in Sweden

AFP , STOCKHOLMAFP, VIENNA

Swede Thomas Johansson, winner of his home event in 2000 and 2004, saved four match points in one dramatic game to upset top seed James Blake 3-6, 6-1, 7-6 (7/3) in Saturday's semi-final at the Stockholm Open.

The 32-year-old was hoping to continue his giant-killing act in yesterday's final in which he faced the huge serve of Croatian Ivo Karlovic.

Johansson reached the final as he ended the American's 13-match win streak in the Swedish capital. Blake had never lost at the Kungligahalen and had 2005 and 2006 titles to prove it.

Karlovic, the seventh seed, fired off four straight aces to easily dig himself out of danger and wrap up a 6-4, 6-3 semi-final win over German Tommy Haas.

The towering Croatian leads the ATP with 1,108 aces in the season and could beat the all-time mark of 1,477, set in 1996 by Goran Ivanisevic.

The 32-year-old Johansson staged a mighty fighback as he saved four Blake match points in the dramatic 12th game of the final set, salvaging a total of five overall.

His win backed up a Davis Cup victory last month over the American in a losing semi-final effort at Gothenburg.

Both men struck 10 aces with Johansson playing tough defense as he saved a dozen of 14 break points. Johansson improved to 24-11; he and Karlovic stand 2-2.

Blake took treatment on his back stretched out on court while trailing 0-5 in the second set.

Karlovic, who has shot into the top 25 after standing outside the 100 mark at the start the season, was untouchable on serve with 15 aces against Haas.

The Croatian was playing his third semi-final in seven weeks after New Haven and Tokyo.

Novak Djokovic claimed a comfortable 6-4, 6-3 victory over unseeded Andreas Seppi of Italy on Saturday to reach the final of the Vienna ATP event and will next face Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland, who defeated Spaniard Juan Carlos Ferrero 7-5, 6-1.

Both Djokovic and Seppi took time to settle, with Seppi breaking in the opening game but immediately dropping his own serve to love. Each player continued to earn break opportunities, with the top seeded Serb fighting off four to hold for 2-1, and Seppi saving one at 2-1 and a further two at 3-2.

Djokovic finally made the breakthrough at 5-4, forcing a forehand error to claim the set.

In the second set, Seppi lost his serve from 40-0 to gift Djokovic a break for 3-1, and the Serb held off a break point at 4-2 with a brilliantly executed crosscourt winner before going on to claim a place in his seventh final of the year.

Wawrinka dominated most of the match against a subdued Ferrero, intimidating the Spanish former world No. 1 by winning the opening four games. Ferrero then staged a comeback, leveling at 4-4, before Wawrinka re-established his dominance.

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