Friday, May 23, 2008

The Hypo Group Tennis International 2008 Friday Review

Juan Monaco and Nikolay Davydenko
The Hypo Group Tennis International 2008 Friday Review

After yesterday’s sunshine today’s semi-finals at the Hypo Group Tennis International 08, powered by bet-at-home-com, in Pörtschach were once again delayed a little bit by rainfall.

In the first match on the centre court the No 3 of the tournament, Ivan Ljubicic from Coratia, faced the No 2, title holder Juan Monaco (ARG). Regarding the ranking – 14 versus 29 – Monaco, who lives in Buenos Aires, had to count as favourite. This seemed to be affirmed during the first set. Even though took the lead by a break for 2:0 Monaco soon found back into the match and won by 6:4. In set two the Croat suddenly woke up and offered a tough fight – forcing a tie-breaker.

There Ivan Ljubicic once again, like in is quarter final against Daniel Gimeno-Traver, proved his nerves of steel. Thanks to his winning by 7:6(4) a decisive set became necessary. A set that couldn’t have been more dramatic. Ljubicic immediately broke his opponent and played superior serve games. At 5:3 (serve Monaco) he even had three match-points – but couldn’t end the match.
This brought the Argentinian back into the match who promptly re-broke for 5:5. In the final tie-breaker, characterised by many mini-breaks (10 overall) it was then indeed the title holder who was ahead by a nose, winning by 7:6(4). Thus Juan Monaco will face the winner of the Russian semi-final between Nikolay Davydenko – Igor Kunitsyn tomorrow.

A relieved Juan Monaco after the thriller: “It was a really nice game. We had a great fight. The match was an excellent preparation for Paris and I’m looking forward to the second final in Pörtschach in a row. But I’m a bit tired after yesterday’s and today’s matches. Therefore I’ll relax now, watching the second semi-final.”

A prominent guest had fevered along with his countryman Juan Monaco on the stands during the first semi-final – four-times Grand Slam winner (2 x Australian Open, 1 x French Open and US-Open) and uncrowned clay-court-king of the 1970s, Guillermo Vilas. Even more, the tennis legend from Argentina will play on the centre court tomorrow, Saturday. Under the motto “Legends and Hopefuls” the former No 2 in the world will play a double with Carinthian tennis hero Hans Kary and two young players, Patrick Ofner and Jason Peter Platzer.

Prior to this the doubles-final will take place on the centre court from 12.15 on. It will be followed by a 1-set-exhibition by Carinthian tennis talents Patrick Ofner (15 years) and Jason Peter Platzer (13 years). Then on to the appearance of the superstars: Guillermo Vilas will play a double on the side of Ofner versus Hans Kary and Platzer – which will not only guarantee high-class tennis but also a lot of fun. Finally – but not before 14.30 – the big singles-final of the Hypo Group Tennis International 08, presented by, will take place.

In the first double of the day on court 2 No 2-seeded Austrians Julian Knowle and Jürgen Melzer faced a countryman, Oliver Marach, and his partner Michal Mertinak from Slovakia. Somewhat surprisingly the Austrian-Slovak pairing won the first set by 6:3. But then the class of Melzer/Knowle, who are getting more and more comfortable in their renewed partnership, gained the upper hand and they took the next two sets by 6:3 and 10:8. Thus they have the chance to reach the final of Pörtschach in their semi-finals-match versus Robin Haase/Rogier Wassen (NED) in the late afternoon.

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