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HindustanTimes Mon,01 Sep 2014

Tennis

Mikhail Youzhny, Haase to face off in Swiss Open final
AFP
Gstaad, Switzerland, July 27, 2013
First Published: 21:52 IST(27/7/2013)
Last Updated: 22:24 IST(27/7/2013)

Sixth seed Mikhail Youzhny produced a workmanlike performance to beat 2008 champion Victor Hanescu 6-3, 6-3 on Saturday and set up a final with Robin Haase at the Swiss Open.

Dutchman Haase rallied past Spanish fifth seed Feliciano Lopez 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 in a battling contest lasting one and three-quarter hours in torrid heat to reach just his third ATP Tour final.

Youzhny, who finished runner-up to Roger Federer last month on grass at Halle, leads 57th-ranked Haase 4-0, with their last encounter coming in the first round at Wimbledon in June.

The pair of finalists are far from what had been expected when Roger Federer announced his surprise participation in the wake of a second-round loss at the All England Club.

The week in the Alps had been driven by hype and expectation from the presence of Federer and fellow Swiss Stanislas Wawrinka.

But with both of the drawcards making premature exits having been hampered by back injuries during the sell-out week, it is the no-nonsense 31-year-old journeyman Youzhny who finds himself playing for the title against a tournament debutant.

"I made a semi-final in 2011 but it's great to go even further," said Youzhny, who saved three match points in his quarter-final against Juan Monaco.

Youzhny, ranked 33rd and winner of eight ATP titles, dealt Hanescu a first service break of the week in the opening set, finishing with seven aces in the 71-minute contest.

After claiming the opening set in bright sunshine, Youzhny went up a break for 3-2 in the second but had to save a break point in the next game to earn a 4-2 margin.

The Russian put Hanescu under pressure a game later, with the Romanian saving three break points while receiving two time violation warnings. Youzhny sealed his spot in the final two games later on a first match point.

Youzhny admitted that while he won, he did not play his best game to reach his 20th career final.

"I was a bit tired from match of yesterday and I think it showed. There were a lot of mistakes from both of us. But I did what I could to play my tennis and try to win."

Meanwhile, Haase recovered after dropping the first set against Lopez, winning the second with a double break and starting the third with a break for good measure.

It proved decisive as Haase, whose only career titles have come over the last two seasons on similar high-altitude clay in Kitzbuehel, Austria, remained resolute on serve to book his place in Sunday's title match.

"It's amazing to be in this final playing here my first time," said Haase. "It was a tough match against Feliciano, especially with the heat.

"I had to just take it point by point and grab any chance I had. He completely dominated me in the first set but I was able to recover. It ended up being a really tough three-setter.

"I'll really have to be ready for Youzhny, he's got a lot of experience. I'll have to play my best against him."


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