Saturday, January 12, 2008

Ferrero And Kohlschreiber Get The Ws

Juan Carlos Ferrero is very close to winning his first title in a long time. The Mosquito (is that what people call him? Weird.) came through his semifinal against Julien Benneteau 63 64. Benneteau may not have played quite as well as he did against David Ferrer last night, but he was still pretty tough. Ferrero fought hard to save break points a bunch of times (including after being down love 40), and one break of Benneteau’s serve was enough to win each set. Ferrero has been good this week with things like that. He hasn’t looked consistently awesome, but has come up with the goods on the important points, often with a spectacular shot out of nowhere. And the man can hold his own in a baseline rally, but that goes without saying, he’s Juan Carlos Ferrero.

Julien Benneteau looks like one of those dangerous players who are capable of playing magnificent tennis and scoring big upsets. But until he strings some of those good results together to get that big breakthrough there’ll be question marks concerning his reliability. Benneteau reached the quarterfinals at the 2006 French Open, but that’s as breakthroughish as he’s got. An ATP title breakthrough could have come this week in Auckland, he was playing well enough, but Ferrero won the right points today. I’ll take notice next time I see Benneteau’s name in a draw, that’s for sure.

I was glad Ferrero won that match. Philipp Kohlschreiber had knocked out Juan Monaco earlier in the day, and let’s face it, a Benneteau-Kohlschreiber final would have been a little weak. The German won his semifinal convincingly 62 61, but he was helped out by a poor performance from Juan Monaco. Monaco looked terrible today. Juan didn’t start off that badly, but after he lost his serve for the first time the frustration began to show. It soon became clear that Kohlschreiber wasn’t going to let Monaco break back in a hurry, and then the Argentine’s whole game unravelled. Monaco was hitting everything long, and only won two service games in the match, both in the first set. Kohlschreiber did a good job not letting himself drop to Monaco’s level. It was obvious the 3rd seed was having a bad day, so PK sensibly kept the ball in play until Juan made the errors. He knew if he concentrated on his own game the victory would come, and it did.

I’m a fan of Monaco’s so this was a bit disappointing. A final between him and Ferrero would have been something special. But after the match Monaco played doubles with Luis Horna and looked great. He was having a good time on court, smiling and laughing with his partner, as well as getting pumped up for the important points. It’s good to know that Monaco is a player who can recover quickly from a bad loss. And his focus paid off. Monaco and Horna won both their quarterfinal and semifinal doubles matches today, and tomorrow they’ll face Jurgen Melzer and Xavier Malisse in the final. Melzer and Malisse were fun to watch in singles this week (both made the second round) and look good together as a pair. They’ve each had some success in tag team tennis so we’ll see how they go tomorrow. The doubles will be the first match on centre court at 1pm.

So it’ll be JC vs PK for the 2008 Heineken Open Championship. The Auckland tennis season is almost all wrapped up. It’s not over yet though, and hopefully the final will be a good match and a good fight. Actually, to be honest as long as Ferrero wins it I don’t care if it’s a good match or not, but a tennis blogger shouldn’t say things like that. Pretend I said something noble like “May tennis be the true winner on the day”. Yeah, that’s good.

Here’s Philipp Kohlschreiber. I like the yellow shirt.

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