Isner Reaches Houston QFs, Hanescu Throuh In Casablanca
Fourth seed American John Isner has crowned his debut at the $442,000 Houston Clay Court Championship with a spot into the quarter finals after defeating Horacio Zeballos in straight sets, 7-5, 6-3.
Zeballos threatened to claim the opener, but it was Isner to grab a late precious break which propelled the favorite two games adrift and clinch the first set by two games. As for the second set, it looked much easier for the world No. 29 who managed to pick another break, a much earlier one, and leave the Argentine three games behind him. As expected, Isner makes the progress in Houston and is approaching his first success of the year.
American’s next opponent is Ivo Karlovic of Croatia whom Isner will meet for the third time. Karlovic is also following a two-set victory over Igor Kunitsyn whom the Croatian ousted 6-4, 6-1. Said Karlovic of his next round opponent: “He’s obviously feeling comfortable. He’s won five matches now, pretty easily, too, so it’s going to be tough. The key to the match is for someone to try to get a break. If not, then whoever plays the big points better in the tie-break is going to win.”
The head to head series between the two players goes 1-1, the last victory belonging to Isner who beat the Croatian at the 2010 Memphis event, while Karlovic, who is now 174th ATP but who has claimed four single title so far in his career, has won his only game back in 2008 at another American tournament in New Haven.
On the same second half of the table are Teymuraz Gabashvili and Ryan Sweeting, who are also fighting for a place into the semi finals. The American stunned second favorite and compatriot Sam Querrey in the second round, edging him in three sets, 3-6, 7-6, 6-3. Concerning Russian’s road to the quarters, it has included two straight-set wins over Paul Capdeville and Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria. Gabashvili beat Dimitrov 7-6, 6-3 to set his first meeting with the 93rd ATP.
First-seeded Mardy Fish, semi finalist at last week’s Miami Masters, is to start his Houston Clay tour against Albert Ramos who has already won a game in the opener. The titleless Spaniard eliminated Brian Dabul in two sets, 6-4, 7-5 to play the American for the first time. Guillermo Garcia-Lopez is also to make his debut in Houston, the third-seeded Spaniard being expected to meet Somdev Devvarman in what seems to be a pretty tough confrontation, realizing that the Indian has proved to be a real threat for each of the top ATP players.
The winner between the two will play either James Blake or Pablo Cuevas of Uruguay. The American passed Carlos Berlocq in three sets, 6-7, 6-3, 6-4, while seventh seeded Uruguayan eased past Ricardo Mello of Brazill whom he upset in two sets, 6-2, 6-0. The two will meet for the first time in their career, but the Uruguayan starts the fight as favorite.
Finally, Igor Andreev and Kei Nishikori will be the last to fight for a place into the quarters. The Russian reached the second round after passing Michael Russell in two sets, 6-2, 6-3, while the Japanese, who came in Houston as a sixth favorite, beat Franko Skugor of Croatia 6-3, 6-2 to set a second meeting with the world No. 97. Andreev has already beaten him at the Indian Wells Masters this year.
Houston Prize Money and Points:
Winner – $80,650 and 250 points ATP
Runner-up – $42,450 and 150 points ATP
Semi finalist – $23,000 and 90 points ATP
Quarter finalist – $13,100 and 45 points ATP
R16 – $7,715 and 20 points ATP
R32 – $4,580 and zero points
Victor Hanescu reaches Casablanca quarter finals
Eighth favorite Romanian has continued his advancement at the north-eastern African tournament following a two-set win over Michael Berrer whom he defeated 6-4, 7-6 to set a tough quarter final with Andrey Kuznetsov. The Russian ousted the second favorite Marcos Baghdatis in three sets, 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 and will meet the Romanian for the second time. Hanescu leads the head to head confrontations 1-0 thanks to a five-set win at the 2010 Wimbledon grand.
Apart form Kuznetsov’s surprise, Pablo Andujar has also provided one in yesterday’s clash against the sixth favorite, Jeremy Chardy. The Spaniard passed the French 7-6, 6-1, being expected to play compatriot Pere Riba in the last eight term. Riba ousted fourth favorite Andrey Golubev after being given no chance in the opener. The Kazakhstan’s player thrashed Riba 6-0 in the first set only to be denied in the next two, 6-1, 7-5.
Top-seeded Albert Montanes is to meet Filippo Volandri in the second round who follows a two-set win over Julien Benneteau of France whom the Italian eliminated 7-5, 6-3 in the opener. The winner between the two will play either Blaz Kavcic or Fabio Fognini in the last eight. The Slovenian has reached the second round after Reda El Amrani was forced to abandon due to an injury at 3-4 down. Fognini, who is the seventh favorite in Casablanca, edged Gerard Granollers in three sets, 6-2, 4-6, 6-3.
On the second half of the table, Gilles Simon, who is directly qualified for the second term, is to play Frederico Gil who ousted Simone Bolelli in straight sets, 6-3, 6-1. Finally, Potito Starace and Ruben Ramirez Hidalgo are to play for a place into the quarters. The Italian ousted Daniel Brands 7-5, 6-2, while the Spaniard follows a 7-5, 6-1 win over Rui Machado.
Casablanca Prize Money and Points:
Winner – 72,600 euros and 250 points ATP
Runner-up – 38,200 euros and 150 points ATP
Semi finalist – 20,700 euros and 90 points ATP
Quarter finalist – 11,800 euros and 45 points ATP
R16 – 6,940 euros and 20 points ATP
R32 – 4,120 euros and zero points11