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Southern Californians Querrey, Ball To Meet In Final

Los Angeles, U.S.A.

© Getty ImagesCarsten Ball had not won a tour-level match before this week.

Sixth-seeded Sam Querrey continued his consistent play as he reached his third straight ATP World Tour final with a 6-3, 7-5 victory over top-seeded and two-time champion Tommy Haas in the LA Tennis Open presented by Farmers Insurance on Saturday night.

The 21-year-old American improved to 12-2 over the past month and he will attempt to capture his second career ATP World Tour title against Australian qualifier Carsten Ball, who reached his first tour final with a scrappy 7-5, 7-6(3) win over Argentine Leonardo Mayer.

Querrey of nearby Santa Monica, will take on Newport Beach resident Ball for the first time as a pro. The two played several times in juniors. It is the first all-Southern California final at the tournament since 1984 when Jimmy Connors defeated Eliot Teltscher.

Querrey, who was runner-up in Newport and Indianapolis in the past month, broke Haas for a 5-3 lead and then served out the first set. In the second set, Querrey broke for 6-5 and then served his way out of a 0-40 hole by winning the final five points to secure his 31st victory of the season.

Querrey won 59 per cent of second serve points won compared to the German's 45 per cent. Querrey also saved all five break points he faced while converting two of six break chances.

The 22-year-old Ball, who had not won a tour-level match before this week (0-2), struggled with his footwork and volleys in an error-strewn match with Mayer, who also was appearing in his first ATP World Tour semi-final.

There were some positive signs, however, with Ball firing 10 aces and dropping just six points on his first serve. And, for now, the Cinderella story remains alive. Ball, who had lost first round in his past two Challenger tournaments in Lexington and Aptos leading into Los Angeles, is the fifth qualifier this season to reach an ATP World Tour final.

“I was just trying to get through my first round qualifying match,” Ball said of his goals at the beginning of the LA Tennis Open.  “It’s definitely been a surprise but something I’ve worked for. The conditions have suited my game with the court taking some kick and spin, and I’ve been able to play aggressively and get into the net. Doing it here in front of my family makes it that much sweeter.”

Left-handed Ball did not offer a break point chance in the first set and broke Mayer in the final game of the set when the Argentine netted two nervous groundstrokes to drop serve. Mayer earned his first break chances of the match in the first game of the second set after some careless net work by Ball, but he was unable to convert the chance.

Mayer’s frustration boiled over in the fourth game of the second set when, after serve/volleying, he elected not to play Ball’s backhand return, which fell safely inside the baseline to give Ball a break of serve at 3-1 lead. Mayer belted a ball out of the stadium in frustration but in the following game he retrieved the break after a loose service game from Ball. The set was ultimately decided in a tie-break, with Mayer’s continued errors and Ball’s kicking second serve ace to the forehand court at 5-3 proving telling.

Ball is the second-lowest ranked finalist on the ATP World tour this year; Dutchman Raemon Sluiter was No. 866 (l. to Benjamin Becker) in 's-Hertogenbosch. The lowest-ranked winner in 2009 so far has been No. 181 Rajeev Ram (d. Querrey) in Newport.

The last Aussie to reach the LA final was Lleyton Hewitt in 2003 (l. to Ferreira) and the last Aussie champion here was Rod Laver in 1970 (d. Newcombe).

Ball 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. Syd reached his lone ATP singles final in Surbiton on June 1, 1974, losing to countryman Bob Giltinan.

Mayer said that he was disappointed with his performance today: “I didn’t play very well today. This was my first time playing on centre court here at the LA Tennis Open. I played my previous matches on the Grandstand and it took me a little while to get used to the court. Also the fact that I didn’t play yesterday (opponent Mardy Fish withdrew with an oblique strain) might have hurt me. I was able to get some rest but at the same time I ended up playing one less match. I was also very nervous in the beginning of the match. I couldn’t play my game and he doesn’t give much rhythm either. His serves bounce very high. He is a good player but I am upset I couldn’t play my best today.”



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