Back injury ends Wawrinka bid

BACK-TO-BACK::A day after top seed Roger Federer lost at the Swiss Open citing back pains, local favorite Stanislas Wawrinka retired from his quarter-final with the same injury

AFP, GSTAAD, Switzerland

Sun, Jul 28, 2013 - Page 18

Local interest ended in dramatic fashion at the Swiss Open on Friday as second seed Stanislas Wawrinka joined compatriot Roger Federer as a back injury victim and out of the tournament.

Wawrinka had to quit after just over two hours as he trailed Spanish fifth seed Feliciano Lopez 6-4, 2-6, 4-3 after taking treatment before the start of the final game.

Top seed Federer lost on Thursday in straight sets to German Daniel Brands with the Swiss complaining of back spasms which had bothered him for more than a week.

Retirement was a bitter blow for Wawrinka, winner of the spring clay title in Lisbon and Madrid Masters finalist against Rafael Nadal.

“I can’t say exactly when it happened,” the world No. 10 said of his back problem. “I don’t know exactly, but I definitely felt something back there during training last week. I’m so disappointed that it had to happen here in Gstaad, it almost seems like bad luck for me here.”

“I have to get it looked at by doctors and then rest and take a decision on what to do next. This is a delicate part of the season: I’m playing well but I don’t want to risk an injury, I’ll just have to see how it responds to treatment,” Wawrinka added.

Lopez was to play a semi-final yesterday against Dutchman Robin Haase, a winner over Marcel Granollers of Spain 5-7, 6-3, 7-6 (7/5).

Victor Hanescu, the 2011 champion, ended the dream week of Brands with a 6-3, 6-4 quarter-final win on the high-altitude clay of this alpine village.

Brands took treatment on court three games into the second set on his way to his 70-minute loss.

Hanescu, ranked 54th to the 55 of Brands, won his 10th match at Gstaad, finishing with five aces and a break of serve per set.

Hanescu next faces sixth seed Mikhail Youzhny, a winner over fourth-seeded tournament debutant Juan Monaco 5-7, 6-4, 7-6 (9/7).

Monaco was playing his sixth quarter-final of the season, but was unable to stop Youzhny from reaching a second Gstaad semi-final in three years.

Wawrinka looked dodgy from the start against Lopez, 31, a 2006 finalist who won the first set with an ace and withstood a storm as his Swiss opponent fought back.

Wawrinka appeared in trouble after leveling at a set apiece with Lopez having saved six set points in the second set.

The Swiss dropped serve for 1-2 on back-to-back double-faults in the third set as his conditioning began to worsen.

Lopez was fully in control by the time Wawrinka called for the trainer after the seventh game.

He gave up two points into the next game, with Lopez improving to 20-11 this season.

ATLANTA OPEN

AFP, ATLANTA, Georgia

Australian Lleyton Hewitt booked his third ATP semi-final in four tournaments on Friday, beating Ivan Dodig to set up a clash with top-seeded American John Isner at the Atlanta Open.

Former world No. 1 Hewitt, who reached the final at Newport earlier this month but lost to France’s Nicolas Mahut, rallied for a 1-6, 6-3, 6-0 victory over third-seeded Croatian Dodig.

“At the start of the match I couldn’t get into it much,” said Hewitt, ranked 64th in the world, adding that the 36th-ranked Dodig just did not give him any early openings.

“He served fantastic, hit his spots every time. I didn’t think he could play any better for a set and a half,” Hewitt said. “I was just trying to hold serve and stay ahead in the second set. I played a good game at 4-3 to break. I was able to get up an early break in the third set and got a few more cheap points.”

Hewitt is in search of his first ATP title since 2010. To have a shot at it, he’ll have to get past big-serving Isner, who defeated James Blake 7-6 (7/1), 7-6 (7/5).

Hewitt has won four of their five prior encounters, including a victory over Isner in the Newport semi-finals.

Yesterday’s other semi-final was to pit second-seeded South African Kevin Anderson against American Ryan Harrison.

Anderson fired 12 aces in a 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 quarter-final win over Uzbekistan’s Denis Istomin.

The 27-year-old Anderson, who has reached a career high 21st in the world rankings, is in the final four the second time in as many tournaments after making it to the semis in Bogota last week.

“In the third set I had to dig deep,” said Anderson, who rallied from 0-40 down at 2-2 in the third to hold serve. “I had quite a few break points. I thought I played some good points. I don’t think he gave it to me. I used the momentum and that’s what tennis is. It can change just like that. It’s important to stay in the moment as much as possible.”

Harrison reached his first tour-level semi-final in more than a year with a 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (7/2) victory over Colombia’s Santiago Giraldo.

CROATIA OPEN

AP, UMAG, Croatia

Seeded Italian players Andreas Seppi and Fabio Fognini reached the semi-finals of the Croatia Open on Friday.

The second-seeded Seppi advanced after Horacio Zeballos retired while trailing 6-5 in the first set. The Argentine had two set points at 5-4.

Seppi next faces fifth-seeded Tommy Robredo from Spain, who needed five match points to defeat Slovenia’s Aljaz Bedene 6-1, 6-4.

Robredo has lost only 13 games in three matches so far in Umag.

Fognini, seeded No. 3, defeated Martin Klizan of Slovakia 6-4, 6-2 for his 12th consecutive singles victory and his third semi-final at Umag.

Fognini won four consecutive games after trailing 3-1 in the first set. Another four-game run in the second set at 1-1 set up the victory.

“I played much better than on the first day, I felt great,” Fognini said. “My game really works good at the moment. Still, the top 10 is not my goal now, it is a long road. I just entered the top 20.”

Fognini next faces Gael Monfils of France, who needed 2 hours, 16 minutes to defeat Spain’s Albert Montanes 6-2, 5-7, 7-5. Monfils had a chance to finish the match in straight sets when leading 5-3 in the second set, but he lost four games in a row.

“I got a bit tight when I served for the match at 5-4 in the second set. I should have been more aggressive,” Monfils said. “I am very pleased with this, I’ve never beaten Albert on clay before. It was good clay-court match. I could have served better and surely it might be improved tomorrow.”