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Haas, Querrey Advance Into Semis

Los Angeles, U.S.A.

Carsten Ball© Getty ImagesCarsten Ball had not won an ATP World Tour match before this week.

Top seed and two-time champion Tommy Haas advanced to the semi-finals of the LA Tennis Open presented by Farmers Insurance with a 7-6(3), 6-2 victory over No. 8 seed Marat Safin on Friday night.

The semi-finals feature players from four different continents (Australia, Europe, North America, South America) for the first time on the ATP World Tour this season and for the first time in tournament Open Era history (since 1968).

Haas saved three first set points as Safin served at 6-5 but the German was able to break and take control of the tie-break. In the second set, Haas broke in the fifth and seventh games to win the one hour and 49-minute match.

"Overall, we played in tough conditions. At night it's tough to control the ball, but in the end there are no excuses. Playing against Safin is not easy. First, he is a good friend and second he's only playing in eight more tournaments so he is more relaxed," said Haas, who is 5-2 lifetime against Safin. "I played a pretty good tie break during the first set. The first five games of the second set were really tough, but then I was able to go up 3-2 and gain momentum. The first set was frustrating with a lot of break points, and I had five to six opportunities to gain momentum."

The 31-year-old German improved to 24-10 on the season, including a 16-3 mark since May. Haas, who won his first ATP World Tour grass court title in Halle and advanced to the semi-finals at Wimbledon, next takes on in-form American Sam Querrey, who closed in on a third consecutive ATP World Tour final appearance after beating Dudi Sela 6-3, 7-5.

Querrey clinched his 30th match win of the year. Played in front of Querrey’s ‘Samurais’ and Sela’s ‘Hebrew Hammers’ support groups, the match lacked nothing in atmosphere as Querrey dropped just two points on his first serve to reach the semi-finals.

Querrey, 21, who was the beaten finalist in Newport and Indianapolis earlier this month, moved to a career-high No. 32 in the South African Airways ATP Rankings on Monday. The nearby Santa Monica resident is 11-2 in the past month of action.

Sela said: “I thought we both played a good match. The fans were very loud and the atmosphere was very nice. It is tough to play against Querrey. If you lose one service game the set is pretty much over; it is very hard to break his serve.”

Australian qualifier Carsten Ball surged into his first ATP World Tour semi-final with a 6-4, 6-4 win over American John Isner.

Ball served up nine aces and saved both break points he faced while converting the two break chances he earned on Isner’s serve. The left-hander, who posted wins over experienced players Marc Gicquel and Dmitry Tursunov earlier in the tournament, is the first qualifier to reach the semi-finals here since countryman James Sekulov in 1999.

The 22 year old next meets Argentine Leonardo Mayer, who received a quarter-final walkover from Mardy Fish (oblique strain).

Ball has played well at feeder levels in 2009, winning Futures titles in New Zealand and Sacramento and reaching Challenger finals in Sarasota and Yuba City. He is the son of former Aussie pro Syd Ball, who reached the Australian Open doubles final in 1974 (w/Giltinan) and captured eight ATP doubles titles during his career.

Mayer, like Ball, will be appearing in his first ATP World Tour semi-final. “I was ready to play today, expecting a tough match against Mardy, who is a great player," Mayer said. “On the other hand I am obviously very happy to reach my first ATP World Tour semi-final. I played a tough match yesterday and this day off will help me to be ready for tomorrow’s match against Carsten. I’ve known him since juniors and I know it will be a very tough match.”

Mayer is looking to become the second consecutive Argentine winner in Los Angeles, following the success of Juan Martin del Potro in 2008. “Now I am two matches away from keeping the LA Tennis Open trophy on home soil (Argentina)."

Despite the setback, Fish is hopeful of being fit enough to play next week in Washington, an ATP World Tour 500 event, where he is the ninth seed. "It’s something I’ve had for the past three weeks since Davis Cup and it’s not exactly where I want it to be," Fish said on Tennis Channel. "I’m going to take a few days off and then try to get back for D.C. Everything except the serve feels great."

 

 

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