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Fish Fights To Break Delray Curse

Delray Beach, U.S.A.

Christophe Rochus reached his first ATP World Tour semi-final since February 2006.© CameraSportChristophe Rochus reached his first ATP World Tour semi-final since February 2006.

Big-serving American Mardy Fish has set his sights on snapping the curse afflicting top seeds at the Delray Beach Tennis Championships, an ATP World Tour 250 tennis tournament. No top seed has ever won the event.

But on Friday night Fish moved within two matches of breaking the curse by reaching the semi-finals with a 7-6(2), 7-6(4) win over Frenchman Florent Serra, dropping just six points on his first serve and offering up just one break of serve en route.

Fish, who is the only one of the four Delray Beach semi-finalists to have won an ATP World Tour title, next will face seventh-seeded Frenchman Jeremy Chardy Saturday night.

The 27-year-old two-time ATP World tour title winner reached his 12th final earlier this month in San Jose with wins over Hewitt, Isner, del Potro and Blake before falling to Stepanek.

Five top seeds have reached the final since the event began in 1993 in Coral Springs, but none has ever claimed the title.

World No. 60 Christophe Rochus (pictured) reached his first ATP World Tour semi-final since February 2006 by defeating Austrian Stefan Koubek 6-3, 7-6(7) on Friday at the Delray Beach International Tennis Championships, an ATP World Tour 250 tennis tournament.

The unseeded Rochus converted three of five break points to snap a four-match losing-streak against Koubek in 91 minutes. In the second round he dropped just five games as he stunned second seed Sam Querrey. The 266th-ranked Koubek, who missed six months of last season after back surgery, slipped to a 4-3 match record in 2009.

The 30-year-old Rochus improved to a 6-5 match record on the season; the Belgian was also a quarter-finalist last week in Memphis (l. to Hewitt). He will look to reach his first ATP World Tour final since Rotterdam (l. to Stepanek) in February 2006 – and his third overall (0-2 record) - when he takes on Evgeny Korolev on Saturday. 

The Russian qualifier broke serve five times in a convincing 6-2, 6-2 win over Spaniard Guillermo Garcia-Lopez to reach the semi-finals for the first time this season.

The 21 year old qualified this week for the third time this year. He first qualified into a 2009 tour-level event at the Australian Open, where he went on to upset Carlos Moya in straight sets before falling to Roger Federer. He has a 6-3 record this year.

Seventh seed Jeremy Chardy secured his place in the quarter-finals with a 7-6(7), 7-6(3) victory over Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis. Chardy squandered a 5-2 lead in the first set before clinching the one-set lead on a tie-break. After breaks were exchanged in the second set, the Frenchman claimed victory in a second tie-break after one hour and 49 minutes.

The 22-year-old Chardy, this week a career-high No. 52 in the South African Airways 2009 ATP Rankings, is through to his second ATP World Tour semi-final of the season. The Pau native reached his first ATP World Tour final in Johannesburg (l. to Tsonga) and was also a quarter-finalist in Sydney (l. to Gasquet) after qualifying into the main draw. He improved to a 10-5 match record on the season.

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Aaron M. Sprecher


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