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Gasquet Reaches First Season Semifinal; Argentines Prosper

Stuttgart, Germany

Juan Martin del Potro fired nine aces to take his season total to 106 in 20 matches.MercedesCup/Paul ZimmerJuan Martin del Potro fired nine aces to take his season total to 106 in 20 matches.

Second-seeded Frenchman Richard Gasquet reached his first ATP semifinal of the season at the MercedesCup on Friday, defeating Spaniard Albert Montanes 6-3, 7-6(5) in the quarterfinals in Stuttgart.

The Beziers native fired seven aces, saved seven of eight break points against him, and converted three of six break point chances as he recovered from a 3-5 deficit in the second set to secure victory in 1 hr., 35 min.

This week has marked the first time since reaching the quarterfinals at Masters Series Hamburg that World No. 70 Albert Montanes had won back-to-back ATP main draw matches. He was looking to reach his first ATP semifinal of the season.

The 22-year-old Gasquet, currently eight places down on his career-high at No. 15 in the South African Airways ATP Rankings, had reached just one ATP quarterfinal this season, falling to David Nalbandian at Queen’s Club. He also made fourth round exits at the Australian Open (l. to Tsonga) and Wimbledon (l. to Murray). The right-hander is chasing his first title since 2007 Mumbai (d. O. Rochus).

In the semifinals, Gasquet takes a 1-0 series lead into his clash with sixth-seeded Argentine Agustin Calleri, who defeated Michael Berrer 6-4, 6-2. Gasquet won when the pair first met four years ago at Buenos Aires.

World No. 52 Calleri will contest his second ATP semifinal of the season. He was also a semifinalist in May at Casablanca, where he fell to Julien Benneteau. In a season where he has established a 19-16 match record, the 31-year-old has also reached the quarterfinals at five other ATP events. The Buenos Aires resident is looking to reach his first final on the ATP circuit since finishing runner-up to Nikolay Davydenko at 2006 New Haven.

Also on Friday, eighth-seeded Argentine Eduardo Schwank converted five of 15 break points in advancing to his maiden ATP semifinal with a 6-0, 4-6, 6-3 victory over Czech lucky loser Jan Hernych.

The 22-year-old Schwank, who defeated former World No. 3 and 2003 champion Guillermo Coria on Tuesday, only won his first ATP-level match in February on his way to reaching the quarterfinals at Costa do Sauipe (l. to Lapentti). Having also won three singles titles on the ATP Challenger Circuit this season, the Rosario resident has improved his South African Airways ATP Ranking from No. 171 at the start of the year to No. 62.

In the semifinals, Schwank will face compatriot Juan Martin del Potro (pictured), who knocked out the last remaining German representative in the draw, No. 4 seed Philipp Kohlschreiber 7-6(3), 6-3.

Del Potro fired nine aces, to take his season total to 106 in 20 matches, and was able to convert on one of the four break point chances he was presented with, while Kohlschreiber squandered all four of his opportunities. Del Potro also won their first meeting at Masters Series Cincinnati last year and now holds a 2-0 series lead.

World No. 35 Kohlschreiber was contesting the Stuttgart quarterfinals for the first time in five visits. The 24-year-old, who titled at Auckland (d. Ferrero) and the start of the year, drops to a 22-14 season match record.

The 19-year-old del Potro, one of three Argentines through to the final four, is through to his second ATP semifinal of the season; his first came on grass at ‘s-Hertogenbosch (l. to Ferrer) last month. The World No. 65, who resides in Tandil, will look to reach his career first ATP singles final.


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