Sun, Feb 10, 2019 - Page 7 News List

Merciless Monfils hands Tsitsipas lesson at Sofia Open

Reuters, SOFIA

France’s Pierre-Hugues Herbert returns to Canada’s Denis Shapovalov in their Open Sud de France quarter-final in Montpellier, France, on Friday.

Photo: AFP

Gael Monfils on Friday doled out another lesson in outstanding tennis, winning 93 percent of points on his first serve, as he reached the semi-finals of the Sofia Open with a 6-3, 7-6 (7/5) win over Greek emerging talent Stefanos Tsitsipas.

The experienced Frenchman, who has slipped to No. 33 in the world rankings after a series of injuries, looked in ominously good form as he took his place in the last four without dropping a set this week.

The 32-year-old eased through the first set after breaking Tsitsipas’ serve at the first time of asking and comfortably won the tiebreak in the second.

“I was very aggressive today,” Monfils said. “I tried to dictate [the tempo] and I did my job at the end. Today, I served very well, this is my best serving day so far.”

Monfils was yesterday scheduled to meet Russian third seed Daniil Medvedev, who dismantled Slovakian Martin Klizan in straight sets to progress to the semi-finals.

Medvedev came out of the blocks fast and Klizan could not cope with the big-hitting Russian, who fired nine aces during his comfortable 6-4, 6-1 win without offering up a single break point.

Italy’s Matteo Berrettini mounted a stirring comeback to upset sixth seed Fernando Verdasco 4-6, 7-5, 6-4, claiming a second famous scalp in the Bulgarian capital this week.

World No. 53 Berrettini, who stunned top seed Karen Khachanov with a three-set win in the second round, recovered from a nervous start to produce another masterful display of power hitting and solid serving against the Spanish veteran.

“Like in the match against Karen, I was a set down and I tried to stay focused,” said the 1.96m Italian, who turns 23 in April. “I knew I had to fight and I’m glad it went well.”

Berrettini’s semi-final opponent is to be Hungarian Marton Fucsovics, who made it to the last four on his 27th birthday after fourth seed Roberto Bautista Agut, the Sofia Open winner in 2016, withdrew before the quarter-finals due to illness.

OPEN SUD DE FRANCE

AP, MONTPELLIER, France

Former champion Tomas Berdych on Friday reached the Open Sud de France semi-finals the hard way, saving two match points in a 7-6 (7/3), 6-7 (5/7), 7-5 win against Filip Krajinovic of Serbia.

The two players were meeting for the first time on the ATP Tour and made it a contest to remember.

It looked as if Berdych was going through in straight sets when he went a break up in the second set.

However, Krajinovic — a Paris Masters finalist in 2017 following a surprising run from the qualifying rounds — broke back, took the tiebreaker and then led 5-4 and 40-15 in the third.

Berdych, who is unseeded at the tournament he won in 2012, then turned the match around.

The 33-year-old Czech next faces seventh-seeded Pierre-Hugues Herbert of France, who beat third-seeded Denis Shapovalov of Canada 7-5, 7-6 (7/4).

Berdych beat Herbert in their only previous meeting, earlier this year in the quarter-finals of the Doha Open.

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga hit 18 aces, but needed four match points to beat seventh-seeded Jeremy Chardy 6-7 (6/8), 7-6 (7/4), 6-4 in an all-French quarterfinal.

Tsonga next plays Radu Albot of Macedonia, who won 6-2, 7-6 (7/2) against qualifier Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus.

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