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Russell Reaches Newport SFs After 3 TBs; Next Faces Mahut

Newport, U.S.A.

Mahut© Ben SolomonFrenchman Nicolas Mahut is chasing his second grass-court title of the season.

Michael Russell’s quick dash from Ecuador to Newport, Rhode Island, continues to pay dividends, with the American veteran upsetting third-seeded Dutchman Igor Sijsling in three tie-breaks to reach the Hall of Fame Tennis Championships semi-finals.

Russell, who last weekend won the Manta Challenger on hard court on the Ecuadorian coast, toiled for 2 hrs., 40 mins. Thursday to beat Sijsling 7-6(3), 6-7(6), 7-6(5). Russell did not have match points in the second set. He rallied from a break down early in the third set and from 0-3 in the decisive tie-break (in which he won six straight points to take a 6-3 lead) to reach the second tour-level semi-final of his career (Houston 2012).

"It's not a fitness issue," Russell said. "I just kept fighting and it helped to have the crowd and my wife there encouraging me to keep going. I knew Igor wouldn't hand it to me. I'm always fighting. I'm never going to give up.

"I've been saving the best tennis of my career for my twilight years. I hope I can keep getting better."

Russell, 35, did not win a main-draw match during the recent European grass-court swing and before this week had not won a main-draw match on the ATP World Tour since a quarter-final run to Memphis quarter-finals in February.

The match was the first three-tie-break marathon since 1993 (Rusedski-Antonitsch). Russell is the oldest Newport semi-finalist since Fabrice Santoro successfully defended his title in 2008.

Russell will next meet wild card and 2007 runner-up Nicolas Mahut, who defeated Poland’s Michal Przysiezny 7-6(5), 6-4. Mahut, who captured his first ATP World Tour title in ‘s-Hertogenbosch last month while ranked No. 240, is 127 this week. He is 10-2 on grass this season. The 31-year-old Frenchman also reached the quarters here in ’09.

Should he reach the final, Mahut could potentially meet two-time defending champion John Isner. The pair played a memorable 11-hour battle at Wimbledon, which Isner famously won 70-68 in the fifth set.

Doubles - Dr. Ivo's Dream Comeback Continues
Ivo Karlovic continued his dream comeback from illness when he won his fourth match from four outings in Newport this week. Already in the singles quarter-finals, Karlovic and Indian partner Divij Sharan saved four match points in a match tie-break to beat Adil Shamasdin and John-Patrick Smith 6-4, 4-6, 19-17 - the longest match-tie-break of the season.

In the first round, Karlovic and Sharan saved five match points from 4-9 down in a match tie-break.

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