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Stepanek To Face Tursunov In SFs; Mathieu Advances

Metz, France

Paul-Henri Mathieu is through to the Metz semifinals for the second time on his fifth appearance.© Arnaud BantquinPaul-Henri Mathieu is through to the Metz semifinals for the second time on his fifth appearance.

Fifth seed Dmitry Tursunov cruised into the semifinals of the Open de Moselle in Metz on Friday, firing nine aces and converting three of 10 break points as he dispatched Carlos Moya 6-3, 6-3.

Former World No. 1 Moya drops to a 26-21 match record for the season. He has finished runner-up at two ATP events this season in Costa do Sauipe (l. to Almagro) and three weeks ago in Bucharest (l. to Simon).

Tursunov, who lost to Moya in their only previous meeting at 2004 Wimbledon, is through to his third ATP semifinal of the season (2-0 record). The Russian-born California resident, who is No. 32 in the South African Airways ATP Rankings, won his fourth ATP title at Sydney (d. Guccione) in January and came up just short of the Indianapolis title defense (l. to Simon in final) in July. The 25-year-old now improves to 31-19 for the season.

In the semifinals he will face Czech seventh seed Radek Stepanek, who was made to work hard against Eduardo Schwank, rallying from a set down to defeat the Argentine 3-6, 7-6(4), 6-4 in 2 hr., 25 min.

World No. 29 Stepanek, in fact, won three points less than No. 54 Schwank and both players broke serve on just one occasion in their first meeting, with Stepanek capitalizing on only one of 10 break point chances.

Schwank, who began the year at No. 171 in the South African Airways ATP Rankings, upset No. 3 seed Nicolas Almagro in the first round this week. The 22-year-old, who now drops to a 14-13 ATP match record for the season, was bidding to reach his second ATP semifinal after advancing to his first at Stuttgart (l. to del Potro).

The 29-year-old Stepanek, who is making his debut in Metz this week, is through to his fifth ATP semifinal (1-3 record) of the season. He reached the final at San Jose (l. to Roddick), but fell in semifinals at Sydney (l. to Guccione), Memphis (l. to Soderling) and Masters Series Rome (l. to Djokovic).

The No. 2 Czech player (behind No. 27 Tomas Berdych) goes on to face either Carlos Moya or No. 5 seed Dmitry Tursunov for a place in the final.

French qualifier, Adrian Mannarino continued a dream week by reaching his maiden ATP semifinal with a 6-4, 7-6(3) victory over compatriot Marc Gicquel. The 20-year-old Mannarino, who is playing in his second career ATP tournament, converted two of seven break point chances to defeat World No. 41 Gicquel, ranked 140 places higher in the South African Airways ATP Rankings, after 1 hr., 31 min.

The Soizy native, who recorded his first ATP-level victory by upsetting No. 6 seed Andreas Seppi in the first round, has won two Futures events from four finals this season, most recently titling at the France F15 event two weeks ago. He will face either No. 4 seed Paul-Henri Mathieu or Janko Tipsarevic in the semifinals.

Mannarino next will face fourth-seeded compatriot Paul-Henri Mathieu (pictured), who fired 12 aces and broke serve once as he knocked out Serbian Janko Tipsarevic 7-6(4), 6-3 in 1 hr., 37 min.

"It was a very close match today. Two or three points decided the match," said Mathieu. "Against Mannarino it will be a completely different story. He's very young and has nothing to lose. I only saw him play today."

The 26-year-old Mathieu is through to the Metz semifinals for the second time on his fifth appearance and will look to reach the final for the first time after falling to Jerome Haehnel in 2004; he has an 8-4 tournament record.

Currently No. 24 in the South African Airways ATP Rankings, Mathieu improves to 28-23 for the season, highlighted by two semifinal exits at Marseille (l. to Murray) and Munich (l. to Bolelli) and two quarterfinal appearances at Adelaide (l. to Sirianni) and the Beijing Olympics (l. to Gonzalez).


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