Mon, Aug 08, 2011 - Page 19 News List

Monfils, Stepanek to battle for title

SAGE:Stepanek, who at 32 is the oldest player in the top 100, convincingly beat 22-year-old Donald Young, ending the youngster’s run of four consecutive wins

AP, WASHINGTON

Top-seeded Gael Monfils of France beat No. 11 John Isner 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (8/6) in a rain-delayed match on Saturday to advance to the final of the Legg Mason Tennis Classic.

Monfils was scheduled to meet Radek Stepanek yesterday after the Czech defeated American Donald Young 6-3, 6-3.

Monfils, ranked seventh in the world, won the tiebreaker when the lanky Isner hit a forehand into the net.

Isner staved off two match points in the 10th game. On the second, Monfils felt Isner’s serve was wide, but the replay machine failed to operate and the call stood.

The start of the match was delayed nearly two hours. There were two lengthy rain delays and the match finally ended at 1:15am.

The 32-year-old Stepanek convincingly beat the 22-year-old Young.

In the seven years he’s been a professional, Young has been known as a promising player on the tour — and last week the American won four straight matches for the first time in his career. Stepanek made sure there wasn’t a fifth.

“He’s a veteran — 10 years my senior,” Young said. “I couldn’t get set into the way I wanted to play. It wasn’t that I was nervous, but more so he took me out of my game.”

Stepanek broke Young in the fifth and ninth games of the first set — and in the second game of the second set.

Stepanek won the second set’s first nine points and held service in the third game when he staved off Young’s only two break points of the match.

The left-hander entered this hard-court tuneup for the US Open ranked 128th and with a 19-53 career record as a professional.

His run this week assures Young of returning to the top 100 in today’s ATP rankings. He still must qualify for the US Open’s main draw.

“I won four matches. I beat good players consistently for a week,” Young said.

After Stepanek won, he showed some emotion — punching the air — and hitting a tennis ball into the upper deck of the stadium.

The oldest player ranked in the top 100, Stepanek is seeking his fifth title — his first since winning two in 2009.

? BET-AT-HOME CUP

AFP, KITZBUHEL, Austria

Dutchman Robin Haase won his first ever ATP title on Saturday as he beat experienced Spaniard Albert Montanes 6-4, 4-6, 6-1 in the clay-court final.

Haase, 24 and appearing in his first final, looked to have blown his chance when 30-year-old Montanes, a winner of five ATP titles, leveled the match.

However, the 53rd-ranked Dutchman — who has had his best ever season in the Grand Slams this year reaching the third rounds of both the Australian Open and Wimbledon — regrouped and romped through the decisive set after two hours on court.

Montanes, ranked 50th, had been favorite as he played on the preferred clay-court surface on which he has won all his five titles.

“I always knew I could win this type of tournament, now I’ve finally shown it,” said Haase, who becomes the first Dutch player to win the tournament in the Austrian ski resort.

Montanes, who eliminated top seed Argentine Juan Ignacio Chela in the semi-finals, had fought hard in the first two sets before running out of steam in the third, dropping serve twice and trailing 5-0 before winning a game.

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