Montanes, Hanescu Reach Casablanca Semis
Top-seeded at the Grand Prix Hassan II event, Albert Montanes has reached the best four round after beating seventh-ranked Fabio Fognini in two sets. The Spaniard will next play compatriot Pablo Andujar.
Montanes needed one hour and 40 minutes in order to pass the Italian whom he defeated 7-6(1), 6-2. Fognini managed to push the opener into the tie-break only to allow the Spanish player go six points adrift. World No. 24 then broke the Italian three times to win the second set to two and guarantee a place into the semi finals. Montanes, who hasn’t dropped any set this week in Casablanca, will next face co-national Pablo Andujar in what will be their third meeting in career.
Andujar has flown into the semis thanks to a two-set win over another Spaniard, Pere Riba, whom he defeated 6-2, 6-2. The winner needed one hour and 15 minutes in order to oust Riba to whom he dropped 13 points on serve. Montanes starts the semi final as favorite, having beaten the world No. 69 twice, last occasion at the 2010 Buenos Aires event. His first win dates from 2007 when he passed Andujar at the Costa Do Sauipe, Brazil.
On the other side of the table, eighth-seeded Victor Hanesc beat Marcos Baghdatis’s killer, Andrey Kuznetsov, in three sets, 6-7, 7-5, 6-2 to meet Potito Starace in the last four. The Romanian player grabbed his second struggling victory of the week. Hanescu passed his first round opponent Daniel Gimeno 4-6, 6-4, 6-4. He managed though to oust Michael Berrer of Germany in two sets in the second round.
His next opponent Starace started the Moroccan event as sixth favorite having reached the semis thanks to a three-set win over third-seeded Gilles Simon whom the Italian eliminated 6-4, 3-6, 6-4. In the first round Starace beat Daniel Brands 7-5, 6-2, while in the second one the world No. 48 knocked Ruben Ramirez Hidalgo in straight sets, 6-4, 6-3.
The second semi final will bring Hanescu and Starace face to face for the fifth time, their head to head series going 2-2 at the moment. The last win belongs to the Italian who beat Hanescu at the 2010 Valencia tournament. As for Hanescu he has won the second and third meetings, last occasion at the 2007 Bucharest clay event which is also Romanian’s home. Finally, Starace won the first clash against Hanescu at the 2004 Gstaad clay event.
On doubles, pair Horia Tecau and Robert Lindstedt have reached the last term after ousting Fabio Fognini and Pere Riba in two straight sets, 6-2, 6-1 and 35 minutes. The Romanian-Swede couple will next play Colin Fleming and Igor Zelenay. Tecau and Lindstedt will be also chasing their fifth title together.
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