With Banja Luka, Bosnia and Herzegovina’s second largest city hosts one of five ATP Challenger tournaments taking place the week after the US-Open. The event features two top-100 players but unfortunately the weather hasn’t been the best for the last couple of days. On Friday, at least it stayed dry until the afternoon to complete the remaining two second round matches as well as two quarterfinals.
Third-seed Andreas Haider-Maurer had no problems in his quarterfinal beating 33-year-old Jaroslav Pospisil a second time within two weeks. The Austrian defeated the Czech veteran in the semi-final on his way to claim the Challenger title in Brasov last week. Haider-Maurer hit six aces and capitalized on seven of his ten break points winning 6-2, 6-3 in 71 minutes.
Top-seed Blaz Rola took on Kimmer Coppejans, who competed in his second Challenger quarterfinal in a row after reaching the stage of the last eight in Alphen aan den Rijn last week. The world number 93 from Slovenia returned from New York, where he lost to Fernando Verdasco in five sets in the opening round. Rola has been staying in the United States for three weeks being part of the hard court swing in Cincinnati, Winston-Salem and the season’s final major but seemed to adapt perfectly back to clay. In an exciting encounter with a lot of ups and downs on both side, the 23-year-old leftie from Ptuj was more aggressive in end and managed to finish the match right before it started to rain winning 2-6, 6-4, 6-3 in one hour and 56 minutes.
“It was a very tough match. Kimmer started to play very well, I started a bit slower and there was not much I could do. All the credit to him, he played unbelievable,” Rola described the early stage of the encounter with Coppejans taking the opening frame in only 30 minutes. “I had a good start into the second set, which helped throughout the whole set. In the final frame he was up a break already and also had game points for a 4-2 lead. I managed to scoop that game out, which I think kind of broke him and then I played three great last games trying to get out of the court as soon as I can before the rain,” the Slovanian added. “I have been playing in the US for four weeks and it wasn’t easy at all to get back on clay. When I came here the weather was bad, the courts were slow, which makes it a totally different game. Fortunately I managed to get used to it pretty quickly and so far so happy,” Rola is looking forward to the semis tomorrow.
Due to rainfall, the two remaining quarterfinals with defending champion Aljaz Bedene taking on Viktor Troicki and second-seeded Genova Challenger winner Albert Ramos facing French qualifier Gleb Sakharov have been postponed to Saturday.