ATP CHALLENGER TOUR FINALS 2013
Volandri, Nedovyesov Complete Semi-final Picture In Sao Paulo
Sao Paulo, Brazil
by Josh Meiseles|
Former World No. 25 Filippo Volandri bounced back from an opening day defeat to qualify for the semi-finals at the ATP Challenger Tour Finals on Friday.
The No. 2 seed and 24-time finalist on the Challenger circuit rallied from a set down to defeat Jesse Huta Galung 4-6, 7-6(5), 6-3 in a Yellow Group elimination match.
Huta Galung fired 17 aces but was victimised by 12 double faults. The Dutchman was broken twice, both in the final set, as Volandri increased his intensity as the match wore on. After winning the second set tie-break, the Italian rebounded after being broken early in the third set, breaking back immediately. They would remain on serve until 4-3 when Volandri broke again and served out the match at love, claiming victory on his first match point when Huta Galung netted a backhand return.
“He was tired at the end of the tiebreak, but he broke me in the beginning of the final set,” said Volandri. “I was fighting very well and in the end I was more powerful.”
It was the fourth meeting between the Dutchman and the Italian, and first since 2010, with Volandri extending his FedEx ATP Head2Head edge to 3-1. Huta Galung was eliminated from semi-final contention with the loss, concluding his round robin campaign with a 1-2 record.
Volandri finishes second in the Yellow Group behind Alejandro Gonzalez after the Colombian ended round robin play with a routine 6-2, 6-3 victory over Andrej Martin. Gonzalez ran the table in the Yellow Group, going 3-0 and relinquishing just one set.
The 24-year-old Medellin native denied Martin his first victory of the tournament, racing out to an early lead after breaking the Slovak in his first service game.
A similar pattern would ensue in the second set, with Gonzalez (pictured left) breaking in the second game. Martin would break back immediately but the momentum shift wouldn’t last long, with Gonzalez securing a break for 4-2 and holding on to the finish line. Martin, who was eliminated from semi-final contention following a loss to Volandri on Thursday, finished his Challenger Tour Finals campaign without winning a set.
Martin was hurt by seven double faults and converted just one of seven break point chances. Gonzalez was far more efficient with his break opportunities, capitalising on four of nine and winning nearly half of his return points.
The Colombian, who entered the Top 100 in the Emirates ATP Rankings for the first time with his win over Huta Galung on Thursday, will crack the Top 80 should he win the title this week.
“It's an amazing feeling,” said Gonzalez. “I just can't believe that I reached the Top 100. That was always my dream. I hope kids and tennis players in Colombia see this fact as an example. I feel that I can give more to tennis and go far in the tour.”
Gonzalez will face Green Group runner-up Oleksandr Nedovyesov in Saturday’s semi-finals, while Volandri is set to duel with Green Group champion Teymuraz Gabashvili.
Nedovyesov (pictured right) powered into the semi-finals with a 6-4, 5-7, 6-3 win over 2012 runner-up Adrian Ungur. A strong backhand display, coupled with a slew of timely drop shots, put the Ukrainian back in the driver’s seat after dropping the second set. The former ITA Player of the Year at Oklahoma State University would break at love to seal the match after two hours and nine minutes.
“I played a little bit better than in the other two matches and I think I was more aggressive than I’m used to be, which was the key to win today,” said Nedovyesov. “I didn’t think about the semi-finals before because I still had to win this match. Now I’ll have time to think about it and I’ll come up with something, for sure.”
Gabashvili, meanwhile, entered his final Green Group encounter needing to win just one set to qualify in first position. After being broken while serving for the first set at 5-3, the Russian would rebound and secure the early advantage, 7-5. Clezar would not be denied his moment of glory in front of the Sao Paulo faithful, claiming the second set with one of six aces and breaking for an early lead in the third. The 20-year-old Brazilian would hold on for the victory, 5-7, 6-4, 6-4, in what would be the longest match of the tournament at two hours and 19 minutes.
ATP Challenger Tour Finals Saturday Semi-final Match-ups
Play begins at 4:00pm local time
(3) Oleksandr Nedovyesov (UKR) vs. (5) Alejandro Gonzalez (COL)—First meeting
(1) Teymuraz Gabashvili (RUS) vs. (2) Filippo Volandri (ITA)—Volandri leads 3-1