Stan Wawrinka will try to follow up his US Open championship with another title at the St Petersburg Open after beating Roberto Bautista Agut 7-6 (10/8), 6-2 in their semi-final on Saturday.
Unbeaten in 10 matches, the Swiss star must beat fifth-seeded Alexander Zverev to win the title after the German teenager disposed of Tomas Berdych in the first semi-final.
Seeded first in St Petersburg, Wawrinka had to come through a tough first set against Bautista Agut. The Spaniard had two set points in the tiebreaker and saved one of his opponent’s before Wawrinka converted his second set point.
Bautista Agut could not respond in the second set, as he won just seven points on Wawrinka’s serve.
“For me to make the final, it’s really good, really positive,” said Wawrinka, who called Zverev “the future of tennis, for sure.”
The German surprised third-seeded Berdych 6-4, 6-4 and was yesterday to chase his first career ATP title in his family’s original home country of Russia.
Zverev bombarded Berdych with fast, accurate serves while the Czech veteran struggled, landing just 44 percent of first serves in the second set and leading 30-20 on unforced errors overall.
Berdych had three break points when Zverev served for the match, but the German kept calm to fight back and close out the win.
Zverev is 0-2 in career finals, having lost in Nice and Halle this year. Wawrinka is 15-9 in career tour finals, but has won 11 straight finals dating back to January 2014. It will be the first time the two have played each other.
AP, METZ, France
Top-seeded Dominic Thiem rallied past local favorite Gilles Simon 4-6, 7-5, 6-3 to reach the Moselle Open final, where he was yesterday to meet another Frenchman.
Lucas Pouille defeated 2014 champion David Goffin 7-6 (8/6), 6-1 in the other semi-final on Saturday. Runner-up in Bucharest this year, Pouille is seeking his first ATP title at the indoor tournament in Metz.
Thiem, the world No. 10 from Austria, remains on course to qualify for the season-ending ATP World Tour Finals for the first time. He hit 10 aces, 38 winners and won 76 percent of his first-serve points to prevail against Simon.
Fourth-seeded Simon was up a break at 5-4 in the second set, but could not seize his chance to serve out the match. Thiem broke back with a forehand down the line, and earned another break at 6-5 with a backhand winner.
After a tense opening set in which he saved a set point at 6-5 in the tiebreak, Pouille was in complete control and converted all of his three break points in the second set.
Pouille, who made it to the US Open quarter-finals, finished Goffin off on his first chance with a forehand winner at the net.
Thiem sits in seventh position in the race for the ATP World Tour Finals, which are to be held in London in November, with five of the eight slots for the year-end tournament still up for grabs.
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