Pro Tennis Internet Network

Montanes, Gil Battle Through

Casablanca, Morocco

Frederico Gil In Action© El KhiatFrederico Gil In Action

Third seed Albert Montanes was made to work hard for his place in the Grand Prix Hassan II quarter-finals as he battled past qualifier Santiago Ventura 5-7, 6-3, 7-5 in an all-Spanish second-round clash at the ATP World Tour 250 tennis tournament in Casablanca on Wednesday.

In a match featuring 13 breaks of serve, Montanes squandered a 5-2 double-break lead in the deciding set before earning a key seventh break of the Ventura serve in the 11th game. He went on to serve out victory after two hours and 15 minutes.

The 28-year-old Montanes is making his fourth appearance in Casablanca and enjoyed his best result in 2007, when he finished runner-up to Paul-Henri Mathieu in the title match. Currently a career-high No. 35 in the South African Airways 2009 ATP Rankings, Montanes is through to his first ATP World Tour quarter-final since Stockholm (l. to Nalbandian) in October 2008. It is the first time this season that the Barcelona resident has won back-to-back matches; he improved to a 5-9 match record.

For a place in the semi-finals, Montanes will tackle Portugal’s Frederico Gil (pictured), who broke serve three times as he rallied from a one-set deficit to defeat Croatian Ivan Ljubicic 6-7(2), 7-5, 6-4. The 24-year-old Gil, who is a career-high No. 70 in the South African Airways 2009 ATP Rankings, is looking to reach his third ATP World Tour semi-final of the season after reaching the last four at Johannesburg (l. to Tsonga) and Costa do Sauipe (l. to Bellucci).

Fourth seed Victor Hanescu made smooth progress as he cruised into the Casablanca quarter-finals for the first time with a 6-1, 6-0 victory over Spaniard Ivan Navarro. The Romanian converted five of seven break point opportunities and dropped just seven points on serve in the 47-minute match. On three previous appearances in Casablanca, Hanescu had made first-round exits.

World No. 39 Hanescu is through to his first ATP World Tour quarter-final since reaching the last eight in Doha (l. to Roddick) in the first week of the season. The 27 year old entered on the back of three successive first-round losses in ATP World Tour main draws. He improved to a 6-9 season record.

Hanescu next will face former World No. 1 Juan Carlos Ferrero, who knocked out Potito Starace 6-4, 7-6(1) in a match featuring seven breaks of serve. The Spaniard is playing in his first ATP World Tour tennis tournament since reaching consecutive quarter-finals on clay at Costa do Sauipe (l. to Bellucci) and Buenos Aires (l. to Nalbandian). The 29 year old is playing in Casablanca for the first time since 1999, when he reached the semi-finals (l. to Martin) on his debut.


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