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Montanes Stuns Simon; Davydenko Closes On Fourth Estoril Final

Estoril, Portugal

Nikolay Davydenko© AFP/Getty ImagesNikolay Davydenko is playing just his sixth tournament of the year.

Spaniard Albert Montanes recorded his first Top 10 win in 27 months at the Estoril Open on Friday, beating World No. 8 Gilles Simon of France 5-7, 6-4, 7-6(4) in two hours and 58 minutes for a place in the semi-finals of the ATP World Tour 250 tennis tournament against Chilean Paul Capdeville. Montanes saved one match point at 5-6; advantage Simon, in the third set.

Montanes fought back from a one-set and 4-2 deficit to record his 12th win of the 2009 ATP World Tour season. Both players converted six break point opportunities, but Montanes was able to snap a two-match losing streak and take his place in a second ATP World Tour semi-final this year (also Casablanca).

The 28 year old Montanes last beat a Top 10 player (Fernando Gonzalez) at Vina del Mar in January 2007. He has a 3-16 lifetime record against elite players, with his first Top 10 win coming over Gustavo Kuerten at ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Rome in May 2002.

Simon, who had previously beaten Montanes at 2005 Stuttgart and 2008 Bucharest, was hoping to reach his third semi-final of the year after reaching that stage in Marseille (l. to Llodra) and Dubai (l. to Djokovic). The 24 year old dropped to a 17-12 season mark.

Montanes will now look to reach his sixth ATP World Tour final (1-4 record) on Saturday when he meets No. 91-ranked Capdeville. The pair has never met before.

The Chilean reached his first ATP World Tour semi-final after beating Oscar Hernandez of Spain 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 in two hours and 12 minutes on Centralito. He had previously lost in quarter-final matches at 2009 Vina del Mar (l. to Cuevas), 2008 Washington (l. to Karlovic) and at 2006 Memphis (l. to Vliegen).

Capdeville, 26, dropped just five points on serve in the second set and converted five of 12 break point opportunities in the pair’s first meeting. He has a 6-5 record on the year, while 31-year-old Hernandez dropped to 7-13.

Russian Nikolay Davydenko continued his love affair with the ATP World Tour 250 clay-court tennis tournament when he won his 16th match in seven visits at the Estadio Nacional, where he has won the title in 2003 (d. Calleri) and finished runner-up on two occasions in 2006 (l. to Nalbandian) and 2008 (l. to Federer).

Davydenko, playing at only his sixth tournament of the 2009 ATP World Tour season, stormed to a 6-4, 6-3 win over sixth-seeded American Mardy Fish in 85 minutes.

The World No. 11, who has missed two months of the year due to a left heel injury sustained at Chennai in January, withstood five aces from Fish’s racquet and four of five break points to record his 10th win in 15 matches this season. The 27 year old converted four of six break point opportunities in the pair’s third meeting.

World No. 24 Fish, who lifted his third ATP World Tour title at Delray Beach (d. Korolev) and finished runner-up at San Jose (l. to Stepanek) earlier this season, dropped to a 15-10 mark.

Davydenko will next hope to snap a six-match losing streak against American James Blake, the fourth seed, who needed just 48 minutes to beat Florent Serra of France 6-4, 6-1. Blake, who has won all six meetings against Davydenko on hard courts, will attempt to reach his 23rd ATP World Tour final on Saturday.

Blake is playing at his third clay-court tournament of the season, after first round losses at Houston (l. to Canas) in February and ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Rome (l. to Crivoi) last week. The 29 year old has a 12-8 record this year, which includes losing to Fish in the San Jose semi-finals. 

Top-seeded Frenchman Gilles Simon beat Fabio Fognini for the second time in as many weeks on Thursday, defeating the No. 75-ranked Italian 6-0, 7-5 in 74 minutes at the Estoril Open, an ATP World Tour 250 tennis tournament. Simon, currently No. 8 in the South African Airways 2009 ATP Rankings, also beat Fognini at ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Rome last week.

The 24-year-old Simon dropped just 13 points in the first set and despite being broken twice in the second set was able to record his 17th win of the 2009 ATP World Tour season. Fognini hit four double faults, winning just 43 per cent of service points. He dropped to 9-11 this year.

The wild card will appear in his fourth tour-level quarter-final this year on Friday against seventh-seeded Spaniard Albert Montanes. Simon has reached two semi-finals in Marseille (l. to Llodra) and Dubai (l. to Djokovic), and made one quarter-final exit at the Australian Open (l. to Nadal).

Last month’s Casablanca semi-finalist Montanes improved to 11-13 on the year after beating World No. 112 Simon Gruel of Germany 6-2, 6-2 in 72 minutes.

American James Blake reached his first ATP World Tour clay-court quarter-final in 12 months, after defeating Marc Gicquel of France 7-6(6), 6-2 in 77 minutes. The 29 year old last reached a clay-court quarter-final at ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Rome (l. to Wawrinka) in May 2008.

Fourth-seeded Blake hit five aces, withstanding nine aces from Gicquel’s racquet, and won 73 per cent of service points to notch his 11th win of the season (11-8 overall). The World No. 16 is playing his third clay-court tournament this year. His best result on clay came in February 2008 when he reached the Houston final (l. to Granollers).

He will next meet eighth-seeded Frenchman Florent Serra, who snapped a two-week losing streak against last week’s ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Rome quarter-finalist Juan Monaco of Argentina with a 6-3, 1-6, 6-3 victory in two hours and four minutes. Serra, the Casablanca runner-up (l. to Ferrero), has a 13-12 record on the 2009 ATP World Tour season. Buenos Aires finalist Monaco, the World No. 45, dropped to a 17-11 mark.

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©Neven Gerencir

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