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World No. 866 Sluiter Continues Historic Run

's-Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands

Benjamin Becker© Getty ImagesBenjamin Becker

Dutch wild card Raemon Sluiter made history on Friday by becoming the lowest-ranked player to reach an ATP World Tour final. The World No. 866 will challenge German qualifier Benjamin Becker for the Ordina Open title on Saturday.

Sluiter beat fellow 31 year old Ivan Navarro of Spain 6-7(5), 6-2, 6-3 in two hours and 10 minutes for a place in his fourth ATP World Tour final, where he will attempt to lift his first title. Sluiter was able to save six of seven break points, while No. 81-ranked Navarro hit 10 aces and won 29 of 93 points on return of serve. 

His three previous ATP World Tour finals have all come on home soil, in 2000 at Amsterdam (l. to Gustafsson), and in 2003 at Rotterdam (l. to Mirnyi) and Amersfoort (l. to Massu). Sluiter ranked a career-high No. 46 in the South African Airways ATP Rankings on 24 February 2003.

"My first thought was 'Wow I'm in the final!' It's great," said Sluiter. "Now I will have to continue playing like I did. Becker is on a good run reaching quarter-finals in Halle coming through qualies here. I really want to have a happy end here and win the final."

Earlier in the day, qualifier Benjamin Becker recovered from a slow start to defeat fourth-seeded German compatriot Rainer Schuettler 3-6, 7-5, 6-1. Becker hit seven aces, won 64 per cent of service points and converted five of eight break point opportunities for victory in one hour and 44 minutes.

"I didn't expect too much at the beginning of the week," explained Becker. "I was pretty tired after Halle and didn't do too well in the qualies here. I'm very happy to reach my second ATP final. I've been doing well winning four challengers this year, but this remains something very special."

Becker is the second qualifier to reach an ATP World Tour final this season, joining Russian Evgeny Korolev who accomplished the feat at Delray Beach (l. to Fish). It will be the 27 year olds first ATP World Tour final since September 2007 at Bangkok (l. to Tursunov).

Becker, who also beat Schuettler at Halle in three sets last week, is the first German to reach the Ordina Open final since Karsten Braasch finished runner-up in 1994. The World No. 82 is also the third qualifier to reach Ordina Open final. Guillaume Raoux was a finalist in 1997 when the event was held at Rosmalen (l. to Krajicek), and Peter Wessels in 2007 (l. to Ljubicic).

"I'm not the classic grass player since I don't go to the net very often, but I serve well and that helps a lot," admitted Becker, who improved to 7-3 on the 2009 ATP World Tour season (6-1 on grass courts).

Schuettler, 33, dropped to 10-17 on the year – highlighted by one semi-final at Chennai. He saved three match points in a quarter-final win over seventh seed Jeremy Chardy on Thursday.

The Ordina Open, in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, is an ATP World Tour 250 grass-court tennis tournament.

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