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Tursunov Books Place in Metz Final; Faces Mathieu

Metz, France

Dmitry Tursunov captured his fourth title in Sydney (d. Guccione) at the start of the year.© Arnaud BantquinDmitry Tursunov captured his fourth title in Sydney (d. Guccione) at the start of the year.

ATP World No. 32 Dmitry Tursunov dismissed Czech No. 7 seed Radek Stepanek 6-3, 6-4 in the semifinals of the Open de Moselle in Metz on Friday.

The Russian No. 5 seed converted two of six break points and saved all five against him as he avenged his defeat to Stepanek in Moscow last year.

"Today I had some difficult moments during the match," confessed Tursunov. "I got through all of them which helps and gives me confidence for the final. I also had a difficult first round (against Ascione). Usually I go far in the tournament when I win difficult matches in the first two rounds."

Stepanek, currently placed No. 29 in the South African Airways ATP Rankings, was bidding to reach his second final of the season after finishing runner-up at San Jose (l. to Roddick). His ATP semifinal record slips to 1-4 for the season.

The 25-year-old Tursunov is through to his seventh ATP final (4-2 record) and third of the season. He captured his fourth title in Sydney (d. Guccione) at the start of the year and came up just short of the title defense in July at Indianapolis, losing to Gilles Simon in the final.

The California resident now improves to a 32-19 match record on the season and will face No. 4 seed Paul-Henri Mathieu in the final after the Frenchman defeated qualifier Adrian Mannarino 7-6(8), 7-6(1).

Before he knew the identity of his opponent, Tursunov commented: "Both Mathieu and Mannarino have been playing very well during this week. For me it doesn't matter who I play, I will have to focus on my game anyway."

Mathieu, currently No. 24 in the South African Airways ATP Rankings, is through to the Metz final for the first time after winning just five points more than his younger compatriot in the 2 hr., 24 min., semifinal encounter, in which both players broke serve twice.

The 26-year-old Mathieu is through to his seventh ATP final (4-2 record) and his first since Moscow last year (l. to Davydenko). His last title came at 2007 Gstaad (d. Seppi).

The right-hander has a 29-23 season record, highlighted by reaching the semifinals at Marseille (l. to Murray) and Munich (l. to Bolelli). He also advanced to the quarterfinals at Adelaide (l. to Sirianni) and the Beijing Olympics (l. to Gonzalez) and matched his best Grand Slam results by reaching the fourth round at the Australian Open (l. to Nadal) and Roland Garros (d. Kuerten in 1st Rd., l. to Djokovic).

The 20-year-old Mannarino has enjoyed a dream week in Metz, winning his first ATP-level match in his opening match upset against No. 6 seed Andreas Seppi and now taking his match record to 3-2. He was trying to become the first qualifier to reach an ATP final since countryman Gilles Simon won in Casablanca in May.

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