Robin Haase upset top seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 7-5, 7-6 (7/4) to earn a spot in yesterday’s final at the Austrian Open against German veteran Tommy Haas.
Haas reached his third Vienna final as furious opponent Lukas Rosol cracked a racquet in half when facing six match points, drawing a point penalty which handed his German opponent a 3-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7/0) win.
Tsonga, competing in a fourth event in the last five weeks, was playing with heavy strapping on the left knee, which kept him out of tennis for nearly three months over the summer.
“Haase is a good player who gave me trouble on clay in Madrid,” said Frenchman Tsonga, who is trying to claim one of the four remaining places at the season-ending ATP World Tour Finals in London.
“I’m not in the best of shape and it showed out there. But I have to keep playing if I want to make London. I had my chances, but he was too good. I just have to keep fighting and trying to win matches,” he added.
Haase, the world No. 63, owns two trophies at the famed Austrian alpine resort of Kitzbuhel, but both were on clay.
Haas is the second seed and was champion at the Stadthalle 12 years ago and losing finalist in 2000 to Tim Henman.
“I first played here in 1997, so to be back in the final in 2013 is great, it’s very special,” Haas said. “I feel good about it, I’m very happy.
“Overall I knew it would be a tough match, he’s the kind of opponent who once he gets some confidence can be very tough. That’s how it was. The tiebreak in the third set was key. I played it well and he gave me some unforced errors which helped. It came down to a few points,” he said.
Rosol found himself trailing badly in the tiebreak against the 35-year-old Haas when his temper finally snapped.
The eighth-seeded Czech netted a forehand to give Haas his handful of winning chances.
With that error, Rosol slammed his racquet to the ground and then snapped it over one knee.
It was enough of an outburst to draw a point penalty, giving victory to Haas in just over one hour and 45 minutes.
Despite 18 aces from Rosol, Haas hung tough after dropping the first set in 24 minutes, recovering throughout the second and third sets to earn his 46th victory of the season against 19 losses.
The German also remains in the chase for the eight-man season wrap-up starting in little more than two weeks in London. Tsonga is also chasing a spot, standing provisional ninth to the 12th of Haas.
Haas, winner of his 14th title last May in Munich, has never gone to the year-end event.
Top-seeded David Ferrer became the first Spaniard in 37 years to reach the Stockholm Open final when he beat fifth-seeded Ernests Gulbis of Latvia 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 in two hours on Saturday.
In the way of Ferrer being the first Spanish champion in the open era will be seventh-seeded Grigor Dimotrov of Bulgaria, who overcame wild card Benoit Paire of France 4-6, 6-2, 6-2.
Ferrer will be going for his third title of the year and his first since February.
Dimitrov opened the year with his first career final in Brisbane, but entered Stockholm on a four-match losing streak.