Top seed Juan Martin del Potro was scheduled to face qualifier Grega Zemlja for the Austrian Open title yesterday after the Slovenian world No. 70 stunned Serb second seed Janko Tipsarevic in Saturday’s semi-finals.
Argentina’s Del Potro reached his second consecutive final in the Austrian capital as he defeated Luxembourg’s Gilles Muller 7-6 (7/4), 7-6 (7/5) in a duel which featured 33 aces.
Meanwhile, Zemlja pounced on an injured Tipsarevic to win 3-6, 7-6 (7/5), 6-2 in just over two-and-a-half hours in his first career semi-final.
Tipsarevic began feeling an old injury in his right shoulder in the second set as Zemlja climbed back into the contest.
The Serb was unable to stop his inspired opponent’s momentum, as Zemlja won the second set after Tipsarevic gifted a double-fault for two set points.
In the third, Zemlja went up two breaks and earned the biggest win of his career on a second match point as a Tipsarevic forehand clipped the top of the net.
“I played a great match, it was really difficult in front of such a big stadium filled with people,” the winner said. “It was very emotional for me, it felt super.”
Zemlja had knocked out Tommy Haas in the quarter-finals for his first top-20 win and will now play his first final after winning his debut ATP semi-final.
Yesterday’s final would be the second consecutive year that the 2009 US Open champion gets a chance to lift the Vienna title, having gone down in last year’s final to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
“I’m showing a good level, but I still need to improve. I’m playing well, but you can always play better,” said Del Potro, the holder of 11 ATP titles, the last of which came on clay at Estoril in May. “Being in a final means a lot for me after a month without playing.”
Del Potro’s win on Saturday was his 56th of the season against 14 losses.
Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga will look to avenge last week’s Shanghai Masters quarter-final loss against Tomas Berdych in the Stockholm Open final, after beating Marcos Baghdatis 6-4, 4-6, 5-2.
The top seed advanced to the final after beating 2009 champion Baghdatis, but only after the Cypriot retired because of a left-groin strain.
Czech world No. 6 Berdych defeated Spain’s Nicolas Almagro in just 69 minutes without facing a single break point, 6-3, 6-2.
Tsonga, ranked world No. 7, and Berdych will both be gunning for a spot in the ATP World Tour Finals next month at the O2 Arena in London.