UNICEF OPEN 2011
Dodig Dampens Baghdatis Birthday Celebrations; Tursunov Holds Off Malisse
's-Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands
by ATP Staff|
Fourth seed Ivan Dodig spoiled Marcos Baghdatis’ 26th birthday celebrations on Friday at the UNICEF Open as he defeated the fourth seed 7-6(4), 6-1 in the semi-finals of the ATP World Tour 250 grass-court tennis tournament in ‘s-Hertogenbosch.
Baghdatis, who earlier in the day had won his quarter-final match against Denis Gremelmayr for the loss of just one game, looked to be in a commanding position in the first set against Dodig. The Cypriot broke his opponent’s serve in the 11th game with strong play, but when serving for the set committed two double faults as he surrendered his serve to love.
Dodig capitalised on the sudden swing in momentum to clinch the ensuing tie-break, and raced to victory in the second set by breaking Baghdatis’ serve three times as the Cypriot quickly fell away. Baghdatis won just five return points in the second set as Dodig prevailed in 88 minutes. The Limassol native was contesting his first ATP World Tour semi-final of the season.
"It’s a nice feeling to win and reach the final," said Dodig. "Of course I can be more happy also about my performance on the court. I think I was playing a very high level today and in the end I think I deserved to win."
The 26-year-old Dodig, this week a career-high No. 42 in the South African Airways 2011 ATP Rankings, will contest his second ATP World Tour final. The Zagreb resident won his hometown tournament at the PBZ Zagreb Indoors in February with victory over Michael Berrer.
In the final, Dodig will face unseeded Russian Dmitry Tursunov, who held off a late fightback from third seed Xavier Malisse to win 6-3, 7-6(1). After winning the first set, Tursunov served for the match at 5-4 in the second set, but was unable to close it out as Malisse hit back to force a tie-break. World No. 70 Tursunov regained his composure, though, and breezed through the tie-break to clinch victory in one hour and 31 minutes. Both players had finished off quarter-final matches earlier in the day.
The 28-year-old Tursunov, formerly a Top 20 player, is through to his ninth ATP World Tour final and his second on grass, having captured his last title two years ago on the mowed lawns at Eastbourne (d. Dancevic). The Russian has overcome three ankle surgeries in the past two years to compile an 8-6 mark on the 2011 season.
Looking ahead to the final, Tursunov said, "I don’t know Dodig very well. I know that he’s been doing really well this year; he won Zagreb. He’s been doing well on all sorts of surfaces. He’s beaten good players this week, so I’m going to have to come out and play until the last point, and take the initiative when I have the chance."