FÜRTH, June 3, 2016
The semi-finals are set at the €42,500 Franken Challenge in Fürth with only one seeded player making his way into the stage of the final four.
The tournament’s number four Jan-Lennard Struff, who finished runner-up in 2011 to Joao Sousa, rallied back from a set and a break down to overcome eighth favourited Jozef Kovalik 3-6, 6-2, 6-3. The world number 101 from Germany sent down five aces, winning 71% of his first service points and capitalized on six of his eight break point chances to prevail in two hours and three minutes.
Struff will take on Máximo Gonzalez next. The 32-year-old from Argentina defeated Gerald Melzer 6-3, 7-5, saving 67% of his break points and breaking his opponent’s serve four times to finish the encounter after one hour and 44 minutes.
Radu Albot knocked out Spanish veteran and third seed Albert Montanes, winning 7-6, 6-2 in the pair’s first tour meeting. The 26-year-old from Moldova won 64% of his first service points and converted three of his five break point opportunities to seal victoy in one hour and 35 minutes.
“It was a good match. I won a tough first set and then we had a rain delay at 1-1 in the second set. Following this interruption, it worked well for me. I played very consistent for the remaining 25 minutes. I am very happy to get through, in particular beating such a strong player on the clay,” Albot told Tennis TourTalk after reaching his second semi-final of the season. The Chisnau native made it to the same stage at the ATP Challenger in Karshi last month, losing to Dudi Sela.
Parts of Friday’s match took place in drizzle and conditions were not easy for both players.
“It’s not that easy to play when it is raining. The courts can get slippery and there is always the danger of falling down. It’s difficult to change your direction. But after the rain delay it was sunny and even hot,” the world number 137 explained.
Albot made his first main draw appearance at Roland Garros this year, falling to Frenchman Benoit Paire in five sets.
“It was a really good experience. It is always nice to qualify for a Grand Slam when you do not have the chance to enter the main draw directly. I played three consistent matches in the qualifying without losing a set, which was a good effort. Against Paire, I played on court Suzanne Lenglen for the first time. It was a pity to lose in the final set. Atmosphere was obviously great for him, as everyone was supporting him,” he told with a smile.
Albot will take on 2014 Franken Challenge champion Tobias Kamke next. The 30-year-old German ousted Brazilian youngster Thiago Monteiro 7-6, 6-3. Kamke saved one of the only two break points he faced, converting two of his own to advance after one hour and 38 minutes.
“We even hit the ball today, warming up before our matches. We played in Romania earlier this year and we know each other pretty well and are good friends. Let’s see, how it is going tomorrow,” said Albot, who won the previous meeting between the two in Bucharest in straight sets.