CHENGDU, September 29, 2018 (Press Release)
Top seed Fabio Fognini’s quest for a fourth ATP 250 title this year continued in style here in the Chengdu Open 2018 as he completed a convincing 6-4, 6-2 victory over tournament sixth seed Matthew Ebden in Friday’s first match on Centre Court.
The Italian’s serve was broken in his very first service game, giving his Australian opponent a 2-0 lead, but Fognini rallied to covert both break opportunities he created in the third and seventh games to take the first set.
At 2-1 up in the second set, 30-year-old Ebden had two break opportunities but could not convert his chances and failed to hold his serve in the remainder of the match against an aggressive Fognini buoyed by an enthusiastic crowd.
“I am happy with my performance because I think I played very good in the important points and I am in the semifinals. A lot of people came to watch the match today and hopefully they are coming tomorrow,” said the 31-year-old, who has picked up three ATP 250 titles this year at Sao Paolo, Bastad and Los Cabos to reach a career high of No.13.
In an all-American quarterfinal showdown, youth prevailed against experience as Taylor Fritz defeated Sam Querrey 7-6(1), 7-5 in a tightly contested one hour and 24 minute battle.
Both players were in great serving form, with 30-year-old former world No.11 Querrey hitting ten aces and winning 79% of his first serve points, while his 20-year-old compatriot notched thirteen aces and won 85% of his first serve points.
It was Fritz, however, who took his chances better by securing three mini-breaks in the first set tiebreak and converting his solitary break opportunity in second set, which came in the penultimate game of the match.
World No. 62 Fritz has reached the quarterfinals or better in four ATP Would Tour events this year and with his semifinal appearance here in Chengdu gets closer to eclipsing his career high ranking of No.53 achieved in August 2016.
“I feel like I played really great and I am happy with the way I played. I took my chances when I had the opportunities to break him, which are rare because he serves too well. I have been working very hard (this year). I think it is time for me to make the next step, the next jump up in rankings. I’ve been working really hard so I hope it pays off,” said Fritz.
Fognini takes on Fritz for the first time on the ATP World Tour in tomorrow’s first semifinal on Centre Court.
Sousa, Tomic prevail
Meanwhile, seventh seeded Portuguese Joao Sousa completed his third three set victory on Centre Court in five days as he defeated Tunisia’s Malek Jaziri 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 in one hour and 36 minutes to move into his third semifinal of the season.
In a back and forth match, the world No.50 Sousa had his serve broken four times but converted six out of nine break points to defeat his 34-year-old world No.63 opponent in what was their first meeting on the ATP World Tour.
“I think I played a great match today, especially in the first set. In the second set, he was able to come back a little bit but in the end, I was able to stay calm and play good tennis. I am very happy with this victory,” said the 29-year-old Sousa, who picked up his third career title in front of home fans at Estoril in May.
Australian former world No.17 Bernard Tomic continued his resurgence on tour this year with 6-2, 6-4 straight set victory over 18-year-old Canadian lucky loser Felix Auger-Aliassime to move into his second semifinal of the year.
The 25-year-old Tomic saved both the break points he faced and won 96% of his first serve points to take advantage of a struggling Aliassime, who notched eight double faults in his nine service games.
Tomic will face Sousa for the fourth time on tour tomorrow afternoon, having prevailed in each of their last three meetings.
“I played well today and I think the last one month I have been playing really good so I’m happy. Felix won against Chung so I knew he was playing really well. Whoever came into this match playing better was going to win and today I was feeling the ball really well. I play Sousa now and I’m 3-0 against him but it’s still going to be a difficult match,” said Tomic.
Doubles final set
Both the doubles semifinals were contested on Court 1, with top seeded Croatian pair Mate Pavic and Ivan Dodig defeating the fourth seeds, Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi of Pakistan and Mexican Santiago Gonzalez, 5-7, 6-4, 10-8 to make their fourth final and first since picking up their solitary title as a pair in Hamburg last year.
Portugal’s Joao Sousa had just 45 minutes of rest following his singles match before taking once again to court for his doubles semifinals match with Argentine partner Guido Pella, but the duo were outclassed by their American-Indian opponents Austin Krajicek and Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan, who won 7-5, 6-1 in 64 minutes to make their first final as a pair at the ATP World Tour level.