CORDENONS, August 17, 2018 (by David Provan)
On a sizzling hot day in Cordenons the battle for the four semi-final places at the Acqua Dolomia Tennis Cup heated up; and the match that everyone wanted to see was local Italian top seed Paolo Lorenzi as he squared off against the former world number 5 Tommy Robredo.
A packed centre court crowd of well over a thousand crammed in and the Spaniard was the pace setter as he silenced the home fans early on. Robredo took a 3-1 lead and showed flashes of his peak form as he began to find his range and force the Italian to raise his level. However, Lorenzi proved equal to the task and battled his way back to break Robredo twice and take five consecutive games as the momentum swung in his favour. Despite brave efforts by Robredo to force his way back into the match, Lorenzi nullified the windows of opportunity and earned a deserved win as he wore his opponent down with sheer consistency on his groundstrokes.
Afterwards, a delighted Lorenzi said: “I’m playing better and better every day. I was talking to the tournament director here and I’ve been here before in 2007. I’m really happy to be here with the home fans and I’m going to give it my best.”
Lorenzi now faces Joao Domingues of Portugal who quite simply outclassed his French opponent Enzo Couacaud in straight sets. After having knocked out the number three seed Andrej Martin yesterday in a tough three setter, the Portuguese rarely looked in trouble and eased to a 6-2, 6-1 victory.
Clezar and Valkusz advance
Meanwhile in earlier afternoon action, Guilherme Clezar and Facundo Bagnis battled out a three set war in brutal conditions with temperatures into the mid thirties. In a back and forth match, with both men leading at various stages, the key moment came in the third set decider with Bagnis serving for a three game lead. However, he was broken and subsequently it appeared too was his spirit as he collapsed and failed to win one more game afterwards, going down 6-2. The Argentine Bagnis appeared disinterested during the final game in which he barely attempted to return the ball, thus providing a tame end to an otherwise engaging and tough contest.
Clezar now faces the impressive young 20-year-old Hungarian Mate Valkusz, who destroyed his Czech opponent Zdenek Kolar without dropping a single game. He has now lost only one game in two matches after hammering the Swede Markus Eriksson 6-0, 6-1 yesterday.
“I played this guy two or three years ago in the futures level and he beat me, so I guess you could say I got revenge,” said Valkusz afterwards. “I had been injured before and my level is improving all the time. This is my first semi final and biggest career achievement so far so I’m delighted.”