Sun, Sep 23, 2012 - Page 18 News List

Defending champ Monfils books spot in Moselle semis

AP, METZ, France

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga returns to Jesse Levine during their ATP Moselle Open quarter-final match on Friday in Metz, eastern France.

Photo: AFP

Defending champion Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France overcame a slow start to beat Jesse Levine of the US 6-3, 6-4 on Friday and reach the Moselle Open semi-finals.

The first five games were tightly contested and took 35 minutes to complete, with the American saving seven break points before the top-seeded Tsonga broke back and held for 3-2.

“I had to be fully focused because Jesse was in good shape,” Tsonga said. “I’m happy with how I played and happy to reach the semi-finals, even though I’m still making a few mistakes.”

Levine’s resistance started to crumble after that and Tsonga broke him again before wrapping up the first set with an ace. Tsonga then hit five aces in a comfortable second set where he faced no break points.

Tsonga was to face eighth-seeded Nikolay Davydenko in the last four yesterday after the Russian beat Ivo Karlovic of Croatia 6-7 (5/7), 7-6 (8/6), 6-0.

Tsonga is looking for his second title of the year after winning in Doha in January, where he beat Gael Monfils in the final. He is eighth overall in the race to determine the eight players who will qualify for the season-ending ATP World Tour Finals in London.

Tsonga could potentially face Monfils again in another final today. Monfils had earlier beaten second-seeded Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany 6-7 (3/7), 6-4, 6-4 to reach his first semi-final since February.

Making his return at the indoor tournament in Metz after several months out with a knee injury, Monfils broke Kohlschreiber for the sixth time in the match before clinching victory on serve.

“I’m feeling the strain, but I want to rise above the tiredness and the pain,” Monfils said. “I’m surprising myself. I didn’t expect to hold out for this long, but the adrenaline helps.”

The Frenchman next faces fifth-seeded Andreas Seppi of Italy, who had a more comfortable 7-5, 6-2 win against Florian Mayer of Germany.

Seppi played consistently, winning 97 percent of points behind his first serve and breaking Mayer twice in each set.

ST PETERSBURG OPEN

AP, ST PETERSBURG, Russia

Top-seeded Mikhail Youzhny of Russia reached the semi-finals of the St Petersburg Open, beating seventh-seeded Guillermo Garcia-Lopez of Spain 6-4, 0-6, 6-3 on Friday.

Also advancing to the last four were third-seeded Martin Klizan of Slovakia, fourth-seeded Fabio Fognini of Italy and Daniel Gimeno-Traver of Spain.

Youzhny, the 2004 champion and a two-time runner-up, managed only five points on his serve in the second set, but recovered after an early break in the third set and won four consecutive games for a 5-2 lead. He landed a high volley down the line to earn two match points and wrapped up the victory with a low volley at the net.

The Russian next faced Klizan, who eliminated Ricardas Berankis of Lithuania 6-3, 6-2. The 45th-ranked Klizan, who mostly plays on the Challenger Tour, saved four break points and broke Berankis twice in each set to reach his second career semi-final.

Fognini defeated Roberto Bautista-Agut of Spain 6-4, 7-6 (7/1). In his second semi-final appearance this season, Fognini will play Gimeno-Traver, who eliminated Flavio Cipolla of Italy 6-2, 7-5 to reach his first semi-final in more than two years.

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