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Monfils Beats Verdasco, Querrey Returns To SFs

Winston-Salem, U.S.A.

Dolgopolov© FRED MULLANE/CAMERAWORK USA, INC.Alexandr Dolgopolov is through to his first semi-final of the year.

Gael Monfils is in his third ATP World Tour semi-final of the year after defeating Fernando Verdasco 6-7(8), 6-4, 6-4 on Thursday at the Winston-Salem Open. The Frenchman will be joined by two other first-time semi-finalists and Sam Querrey, who reached the same stage at this event last year.

Monfils, the No. 15 seed at the event, knocked off a higher-ranked opponent for the second match in a row, having defeated No. 4 Tommy Robredo in the previous round before overcoming No. 7 Verdasco in the two-hour, 12-minute match. 

Both players held set points in the first set before Verdasco clinched a close tie-break with a successful HawkEye challenge. Monfils took the upper hand in the second set only to go down 3-1 at the start of the third, but recovered to serve for the match at 5-4. He fended off a strong attack from Verdasco at the close, overcoming a break point and hitting an audacious dropshot-volley combination followed by an ace that took him to match point.

"At the end, at the close points, that was very great tennis," said Monfils. "The level was very high.

"The last game, it was tough to win, because he wasn't missing a lot.

"That's his game, to be very aggressive."

Overall, Monfils saved nine of 10 breakpoints and had a first-serve percentage of 71 percent, hitting 7 aces. He also broke his opponent once in the second set and twice in the third to secure victory.

It was the Frenchman's third straight win over Verdasco, and he will next face Alexandr Dolgopolov after the Ukrainian went through to his first ATP semi-final of the season 7-6(2), 6-3 over Yen-Hsun Lu. The win marked Dolgopolov's first quarter-final win of the season (1-3 record) and saw him improve to a 19-19 match record on the year.

The Ukrainian hit nine aces and broke serve twice to get past Lu in one hour and 38 minutes, improving to a 3-0 lead in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series.  

"I felt like I broke up his rhythm," said Dolgopolov. "I gave him a lot of slices in the first set and he was really playing well against them. Then, when I changed the game, he started missing a bit. He can play really solid and it pays off sometimes to break up his game."

The tournament got its third first-time semi-finalist when  Jurgen Melzer defeated Dmitry Tursunov 6-4, 6-3 in a rain-interrupted encounter. The 32-year-old won the battle of veterans to even their head-to-head at 3-3, converting four of eight break points to complete a straightforward victory in an hour and 21 minutes.

"I felt like I played a really good match out there. Not a lot of mistakes, kept the ball in play," he said. "I felt like I hit the ball well. I was a lot better than in the first two rounds."

Melzer will next face Sam Querrey, who defeated Ricardas Berankis 6-3, 6-4. After saving five match points in his previous round, Querrey came through a much easier encounter in the quarter-finals. The American served 10 aces and broke his opponent's serve four times to win in an hour and nine minutes.

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