Taiwan’s Lu Yen-hsun advanced to the final of the doubles at the Thailand Open yesterday, while Richard Gasquet credited luck and a fighting spirit as he salvaged a 3-6, 7-5, 6-2 win over Finland’s Jarkko Nieminen to book an all-French singles final.
Lu and his partner, Danai Udomchoke of Thailand, rallied to defeat Thai twins Sonchat and Sanchai Ratiwatana 6-7 (3/7), 7-6 (7/5), 10-7 and set up a showdown with Eric Butorac of the US and Australia’s Paul Hanley today.
In the singles, Gasquet, the second seed playing the tournament for the first time, said he seemed destined to lose trailing the 2010 finalist and seventh seed 6-3, 4-0, before turning the tide in struggle lasting for nearly two hours.
Gasquet faces compatriot Gilles Simon, who upset top seed Janko Tipsarevic 6-4, 6-4, in the final today.
Gasquet owns a 5-0 record against his good friend.
“I thought I was going to lose for sure. I was frustrated in the first set and was playing badly, but down 4-0 I was able to start playing better,” said the 14th-ranked Gasquet, now 4-1 over Nieminen. “He got tight when he was serving for it, had a double fault and I was back in the match when I broke him. It was a huge challenge for me and I’m glad I came through, but I really thought I wouldn’t make it.”
Gasquet took control in the final set as 31-year-old Nieminen’s game went off the boil, but the Finn saved two match points in the final game on his serve, before taking the bitter loss when he sent a backhand wide.
Gasquet, a winner in Estoril and at the Toronto Masters this season, said that playing Simon would be important.
“He’s my friend and we know each other’s games well,” he said. “At least we know there will be a French winner.”
Simon, the fourth seed and the champion in 2009, said he took full advantage of a welcome state of fitness against Tipsarevic, after battling over the past few seasons with problems including knee, back and a shoulder niggle.
“Every time I go into a match feeling good, it puts pressure on me,” he said. “I feel that I need to take advantage of whatever fitness I have.”
Simon came out the better in a number of long rallies with Tipsarevic, who was aiming to win a second Asian title after claiming the honors in Kuala Lumpur a year ago, as the Frenchman maintained control throughout after starting the afternoon with a break of serve.
“I played very good today,” said Simon, who improved his head-to-head to 4-1 over the Serb ranked ninth in the world and contending for a place in the eight-man season finale in London in November.
“I don’t think I could do better. Tipsarevic has been playing amazing tennis the past two seasons and he’s hard to defeat. For me, this was almost the prefect match,” he said.
Simon is bidding to win his second title of the year after Bucharest on clay in April. The Frenchman’s win was his 38th of the season, against 20 defeats.
“It’s great to be in a final, that means another tough match, but it also means I’ve been successful this week,” Simon said. “It’s nice to be playing such good tennis again, I never know when I’m going to be feeling fit, so I have to take advantage. With my body, it’s not always easy. I can’t always count on being healthy.”
Additional reporting by staff writer
AFP, KUALA LUMPUR
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