LUGANO/STARNBERG, March 26, 2021
In his only second appearance at ATP Challenger level, Swiss teenager Dominic Stephan Stricker has reached the semi-finals of the €44,820 Challenger Citta di Lugano held on the indoor hard courts of the Padiglione Conza.
The 18-year-old wild card entry defeated in-form German Daniel Masur, who captured his maiden Challenger crown in Biella last week, 6-2, 6-4 on Friday afternoon. Stricker struck 10 aces, saved all three break points he faced and capitalized on three of his own five break-point chances to prevail after 56 minutes.
Stricker clinched the boys’ title at Roland Garros last year to become the first Swiss junior to win in Paris since his famous compatriot Stan Wawrinka in 2003. A few hours after his triumph, the lefty also won the boys’ doubles trophy with his Italian partner Flavio Cobolli.
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The Münsingen native will try to keep up the momentum against Lugano’s top seed Yuichi Sugita in the stage of the last four. The 32-year-old Japanese fought past Evgeny Karlovskiy of Russia 7-6(4), 4-6, 7-6(2). Sugita won four points less than his opponent but secured a hard-fought victory in the tie-break of the third set after two hours and 47 minutes.
In the bottom half of the draw, qualifier Vitaliy Sachko knocked off No. 6 seed Roman Safiullin of Russia 6-4, 6-3. The World No. 389 from the Ukraine broke his rival’s serve three times to advance in one hour and 19 minutes. Sachko will oppose Altug Celikbilek of Turkey, who rallied past Frenchman Hugo Grenier 4-6, 6-3, 6-3. The 24-year-old alternate, runner-up to Belgian Zizou Bergs at the St. Petersburg Challenger earlier this month, won 52 per cent of the total points played to seal the win after two hours and five minutes.