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Haas Wins Clash Of Past Champions

Houston, U.S.A.

Scoville Jenkins serves to Bjorn Phau© Aaron M. Sprecher/ROCCScoville Jenkins serves to Bjorn Phau

German wild card Tommy Haas, the 2004 Houston titlist, prevailed over No. 6 seed and defending champion Marcel Granollers 4-6, 6-2, 6-3 on Thursday to reach the quarter-finals at the US Men’s Clay Court Championship.

Granollers earned the first break of serve to go up 2-1 in the decisive set, but Haas promptly levelled the score in the next game. The German broke the Spaniard again as he converted on his third break point opportunity in the eighth game, and then proceeded to serve out the match in one hour and 54 minutes.

With Granollers’ loss, it marks the first time since this ATP World Tour 250 tennis tournament went to a 32-player draw in 1998 that no seeds have reached the quarter-finals. It is also just the fourth time on the ATP World Tour since 2000 that all the quarter-finalists are unseeded. The other occasions were 2008 Rotterdam, 2006 Nottingham and 2002 Buenos Aires.

Both Granollers and Haas had defeated a top-seeded American to clinch their respective Houston titles, the Spaniard defeating James Blake in 2008 and the German beating Andy Roddick in 2004.

Former World No. 2 Haas advances to the Houston quarter-finals for the fifth time in seven event appearances, and will next face countryman Bjorn Phau, a 6-4, 7-6(2) winner over American qualifier Scoville Jenkins. Phau knocked out another Houston champion, No. 2 seed Mardy Fish, in his opening match Tuesday.

The 29-year-old Phau will be playing in his second quarter-final of the season, having reached this stage in his season opener in Chennai (l. to Schuettler). The German achieved his best finish at an ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event last week in Miami, where he advanced to the third round as a lucky loser. Since the start of the 2009 season, he has risen 41 spots in the South African Airways 2009 ATP Rankings to a current ranking of No. 77.

Russian Evgeny Korolev also closed out his second round match in a second-set tie-break, getting by Spaniard Daniel Gimeno-Traver 6-3, 7-6(4) in one hour and 20 minutes.

Korolev is making his first main draw appearance in an ATP World Tour event since reaching his first tour final in February at Delray Beach. He posted seven straight match wins, including three in the qualifying rounds, before falling to Fish in the final.

The Muscovite will next face former Top 10 player Guillermo Canas, who is through to his first ATP World Tour quarter-final since last July at Umag. Canas defeated Korolev in their only previous meeting two years ago in the Metz quarter-finals.

In his second-round match, the Argentine eased past American wild card Taylor Dent 6-2, 6-2 in 61 minutes to earn his 250th match win on the ATP World Tour (250-189).

The 31 year old had won just one match this season coming into Houston, opening his 2009 campaign with a five-set victory over German Dieter Kindlmann at the Australian Open. He followed with seven straight losses before snapping the skid with an upset win over top-seeded Blake in his first round match. 


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© Juergen Hasenkopf


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