Sunday, 19 February 2017

Dolgopolov first final in 3 years

The finals are set in Rotterdam and Buenos Aires while the semis in Memphis are underway.

Argentine fans were cheering loudly when their own Carlos Berlocq took the opening set off top seed Kei Nishikori, saving all the five break points that he faced, and eagerly converting one of the two he was granted. Nishikori was unable to exert his authority throughout the many exchanges as one would have thought, given his greater arsenal of shot making weapons, and Carlos led 6-4.  A lot different to the second round of the Aus Open last month where Kei won in straight sets.

The semi final turned in the second set, not dramatically but enough for Nishikori to break down the percentage of points Berlocq was winning on his first serve. Even so, the top seed was 4-4 and 0-30, just two points from Berlocq serving for the match.  A touch of brilliance ensured the service hold, and then for a second time in the set the Argentine was broken, squaring the match away at 4-6 6-4.  The world number five appeared far more contented.
The trend continued in the decider,  Nishikori even more dominant on serve, despite carelessly dropping it once.  Berlocq was unable to compete at his first set level, and the result never looked in doubt.  Nishikori into the final 4-6 6-4 6-3

Alexandr Dolgopolov will be his opposition, following the Ukranian's belting of fourth seed Pablo Carreno Busta 7-5 6-2 in the other semi.  It is his first final in three years, and he has not surrendered a set in reaching it.  The start of the match was a poor indicator of things to come, the Spaniard breaking to love.  Dolgopolov immediately broke back, and held serve for the remainder of set one.  While Pablo missed out on four more break chances, Alexandr seized on another of his opportunities to win a vital advantage 7-5.
Set two was a procession, with Pablo level only on first serve percentage, which was deplorable for both.  Everywhere else Dolgopolov dominated,  never facing a break point and breaking the Spanish serve another couple of times. 

The Rotterdam final will be France v Belgium, after second seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga won his semi final against Tomas Berdych.  David Goffin denied an all French affair, halting the excellent run of Pierre-Hugues Herbert in the other semi.

Berdych had been in his best form for some time, so his capitulation at the hands of Tsonga came as a surprise.  The serve was key in the opening set, with Tsonga making 81% of his first attempts count, and winning all but four points off those.  Berdych could only manage a first serve percentage of 56, and Tsonga was eating up almost half of those anyway.

Still Berdych had the ammunition to stay in contention in most service games and avoid facing too many break points.  Tsonga didn't need to save any, and pressured Berdych into a single loss of serve, earning the first set 6-3.

Tsonga's first serve accuracy went out the window in set two, but it mattered none.  He won 20 points of a possible 23 from all his serves - Berdych won a less inspiring 63%,  and succumbed, dropping serve once and losing the match 6-3 6-4.

Goffin never allowed Herbert entry into his semi final, displaying a class of tennis simply too much for the Frenchman.  Three out of four times Goffin broke serve, and he only faced one break point himself.  6-1 and not much in this semi final for the crowd to write home about, except from one end perhaps.  

Much more competitive in set two from Herbert,  but again it was he who had to save break points.  He prevented four from causing any damage, but Goffin only required one to cause the damage.  A finalist for a second time in two successive tournaments on the back of an impressive 6-1 6-3 success.

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