Juan Martin del Potro beat Pablo Cuevas 6-2, 7-6 (8/6) to reach his second final of the season at the Estoril Open on Saturday, where Fernando Verdasco awaits after the Spanish player got past Milos Raonic.
Del Potro, the 2009 US Open champion, dropped only six points on his first serve and hit four aces, while Cuevas was unable to claim a single break chance against the fifth-seeded player.
Del Potro broke Cuevas’ serve twice in the first set, but failed on eight break chances in the second as his 65th-ranked opponent took it to a tiebreaker, where the Argentine saved a set point before converting his first match point to dispatch his Uruguayan opponent.
Verdasco’s lone break of hard-hitting Raonic’s serve was enough to secure the first set 6-4, before the Canadian player retired just after the start of the second set with a back injury. The 12th-ranked Verdasco had previously lost to Raonic in the final in San Jose and in Memphis.
Both players were on court for the second time on Saturday after rain then darkness had delayed their quarter-finals on Friday. Verdasco rallied to beat Kevin Anderson of South Africa 6-7 (2/7), 6-2, 6-3, while Raonic battled another rain delay to secure a hard-fought 7-6 (7/4), 4-6, 6-3 win over Frenchman Gilles Simon.
Del Potro, going for his ninth career title in his first clay-court event of the season, won in Delray Beach in February in his comeback from wrist surgery last year. Del Potro, currently No. 46, lost to Verdasco in San Jose when ranked No. 484.
Meanwhile, Anabel Medina Garrigues of Spain braved a rain delay to capture her 10th WTA title by beating Kristina Barrois of Germany 6-1, 6-2 in the women’s final.
The 61st-ranked Medina Garrigues was leading 3-2 in the second set when rain interrupted the match, but the break did little to rattle Medina Garrigues, who dropped just seven points on first serve and broke her opponent six times to capture her ninth clay-court title, a feat that matches Venus Williams’ record among active players.
World No. 2 Novak Djokovic took his season’s winning streak to 26-0 on Saturday, reaching the Belgrade clay-court final when Serbian Davis Cup colleague Janko Tipsarevic handed him a semi-final walkover.
Tipsarevic was suffering from a right-leg injury and opted against playing the last-four clash with the French Open just three weeks away.
Writing on his Facebook page, Djokovic said: “Janko had to pull out from tonight’s semi-final match because of a muscle injury. I sincerely hope he will manage to recover for the rest of the clay-court season. I will try to get the title back where it belongs and that is Serbia.”
Djokovic won the title in the tournament’s inaugural 2009 edition with victory over Lukasz Kubot of Poland.
The 23-year-old Djokovic, chasing his fifth title of the year, will face Feliciano Lopez in the final after the Spaniard enjoyed a 7-6 (7/3), 6-2 victory over Italy’s Filippo Volandri.
Djokovic takes a 3-0 career lead into the clash with 37th-ranked Lopez, although the left-hander did win a set off Djokovic in their most recent meeting in Dubai in February.
“I think it’s a great match for me to play,” Lopez said. “I’ve already won four matches this week. My confidence is really high at the moment and I feel great to play against Novak. I know it’s going to be tough — he’s been the best player this year. It will be a great experience.”
AFP, MUNICH, Germany
Germany’s Florian Mayer will try and give his country a second tennis title in the space of a week after reaching the final of the BMW Open.
Fifth-seed Mayer advanced to the fourth final of his career by beating compatriot Philipp Petzschner 6-3, 6-4 in the semi-finals and he will face seventh-seeded Nikolay Davydenko in the final.
“I’m obviously very happy and proud, it will be difficult in the final, but I will try to enjoy the moment,” said the German, who is set to break into the world’s top 30 for the first time in his career.
Mayer is bidding to claim Germany’s first ATP title since Benjamin Becker won the S’Hertogenbosch grass-court title in the Netherlands in 2009.
German tennis is enjoying a purple patch after Julia Goerges caused an upset the previous weekend by beating world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki to win in Stuttgart.
AP, BARCELONA, Spain
Roberta Vinci won her second Barcelona Open title in three years by rallying to beat Lucie Hradecka of the Czech Republic 4-6, 6-2, 6-2 on Saturday.
The 42nd-ranked Vinci extended her record on the Barcelona clay to 14-1 and made it three straight Italian winners in the Catalan capital after Francesca Schiavone won the title last year.
“I love Barcelona — I always play well here in this beautiful city,” Vinci said after earning her fourth career title.
Sixth-seeded Vinci broke six times as unseeded Hradecka was troubled on her serve, which provided four aces, but also six double faults.
Hradecka hadn’t dropped a set all week in reaching the final in contrast to Vinci, who needed to rally from a first-set deficit for the second straight match to win.
Dominika Cibulkova knocked Svetlana Kuznetsova from the first round of the Madrid Open on Saturday.
The 28th-ranked Slovakian saved seven of eight break points to beat the two-time Grand Slam champion 6-3, 6-2 for a third straight time on the opening day of the clay-court Masters series event.
Second-seeded Vera Zvonareva overcame a second-set drop-off in her serve to overcome Patty Schnyder 6-2, 1-6, 6-2, while Victoria Azarenka of Belarus blanked Vera Dushevina of Russia 6-0, 6-0.
Fifth-seeded Sam Stosur of Australia rallied to beat Gisela Dulko of Argentina 3-6, 6-2, 6-2.
Other first-round winners included Agnieszka Radwanska, Andrea Petkovic, Petra Kvitova, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Agnes Szavay and Jarmila Gajdosova.
The NBA said was re-evaluating its training program in China following allegations of abuse of young players by local staff and harassment of foreign staffers at a facility in Xinjiang. The comments come after a report by ESPN that quoted unnamed American coaches as saying that Chinese coaches hit young players. One American coach who worked at a camp in Xinjiang complained of harassment by local police, the sports network said. “The allegations in the ESPN article are disturbing,” NBA deputy commissioner Mark Tatum said in an e-mail statement on Thursday. “We ended our involvement with the basketball academy in Xinjiang in June
Coming from the business world, New York Liberty owner Joe Tsai (蔡崇信) did not understand why his WNBA franchise did not have a chief executive officer similar to the team’s NBA counterpart the Brooklyn Nets, which Tsai also owns. For Tsai, it was about equality, so he did something about it. The 56-year-old Taipei-born billionaire businessman and philanthropist promoted Keia Clarke to the position last week — making her the first chief executive officer in the team’s history. The WNBA veteran became the third black woman to currently be in charge of a franchise in the league, joining Los Angeles Sparks president
LEAVING IT LATE: Rakuten added late runs last night to add to wins on Wednesday against the Brothers and the Lions on Friday that went down to the last batter The Rakuten Monkeys rallied to post three late runs for another close win, prevailing 5-3 over the Uni-President Lions yesterday as Taiwan’s second-half CPBL season got started with lower scoring output, but exciting finishes. It was Rakuten’s third win in a row. In two games this week, they seized victory in dramatic fashion with their last at-bat and have drawn level with the CTBC Brothers on top of the table after yesterday’s results, 0.5 games in front of the Fubon Guardians and 1.5 games ahead of the Lions. It was tied at 1-1 early, with Rakuten hosting the Lions at the Taoyuan Intenational
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