Sun, Aug 07, 2011 - Page 18 News List

Monfils, Isner set to face off in epic showdown

AFP, WASHINGTON

French top seed Gael Monfils and big-serving American John Isner booked a rematch of an epic 2007 semi-final showdown at the ATP Washington Classic with impressive triumphs on Friday.

Seventh-ranked Monfils ousted Serbian sixth seed Janko Tipsarevic 6-4, 6-4 while 35th-ranked Isner downed Serbian third seed Viktor Troicki 7-6 (7/5), 3-6, 6-1 for his 11th victory in 12 matches.

Isner owns a 3-2 career edge on Monfils, who beat Isner in their most recent meeting last year at Montpelier on the way to his most recent title.

Isner won their first meeting four years ago in a Washington semi-final that went to three tie-breakers. The last played to a standing ovation, and proved the high point of the American’s breakthrough run to his first ATP final.

“That was kind of a spine-chilling goosebumps moment. That’s one of the matches I will always remember,” Isner said. “We always seem to have great matches. We always seem to bring out the best in each other.”

Seventh-ranked Monfils must win five matches in four days to claim a fourth career ATP crown because of rain that forced him to play twice on Thursday. His only outdoor hardcourt final since 2006 came last year at Tokyo.

American Donald Young, ranked 128th, and Czech Radek Stepanek, ranked 54th, would meet in yesterday’s other semi-final at the US Open tuneup event.

Young, a 22-year-old left-hander, reached the first ATP semi-final of his seven-year career by beating seventh-seeded Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis 6-3, 7-6 (7/4) while Stepanek, 32, ousted Spanish fifth seed Fernando Verdasco 6-4, 6-4.

“It means the world to me. This is the best I have ever done. This is where I want to be more often,” Young said.

Monfils and Tipsarevic took turns on breaks in the fifth, sixth and seventh games of the match and the Frenchman then held twice to claim the first set. Monfils broke for a 2-1 lead in the second set and held out from there.

Isner, a winner in Newport and runner-up in Atlanta in July, hit a backhand volley winner on his third set point of the tie-breaker, handed Troicki the lone second-set break, then broke him three times in the third set for the win.

BET-AT-HOME CUP

AP, KITZBUEHEL, Austria

Albert Montanes of Spain beat top-seeded Juan Ignacio Chela of Argentina 6-2, 7-5 on Friday to reach his 10th career ATP final at the Bet-at-Home Cup.

In yesterday’s final, the 50th-ranked Montanes was scheduled to play Robin Haase of the Netherlands, who defeated Joao Souza of Brazil 6-1, 6-7 (3), 6-4.

Montanes will appear in his first final since July last year, when he won his fifth career title in Stuttgart, Germany. He has never played Haase, who reached his first final.

Montanes broke the 23rd-ranked Chela’s serve three times to take the opening set before the match was interrupted for almost an hour because of rain.

The Spaniard went a break up in the second set but failed to close out the match while serving at 5-4. He converted a second opportunity at 6-5.

The 53rd-ranked Haase, playing in his second semi-final after the Dutch Open in 2007, won 16 of the first 20 points against Souza and dropped just one point on serve in the opening set.

Souza failed to serve out the second at 5-4 before clinching it in the tiebreaker, but lost serve again in the deciding set.

The 110th-ranked Brazilian missed the chance to become the first qualifier this season to reach an ATP final.

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