By Florian Heer
(March 30, 2014) Semifinals in Umag took place in perfect weather conditions with a lot of sunshine and pleasant temperatures. It was also less windy compared to Friday and the players seemed to feel comfortable on court, as the matches took their time.
In the opening semi-final Lamine Ouahab took on Uladzimir Ignatik for the very first time on the tour. The fourth-seeded Moroccan hit solid baseline shots with good length and annoyed his opponent with a lot of drop shots. This and a couple of mind games, which were going on throughout the match, led to some discussions between the two players and the umpire as well. Nonetheless the battle ended after one hour and 45 minutes with a handshake at the net and Ouahab advanced into his first final of the season winning 6-4, 7-6.
The Moroccan No. 1 will meet Simone Vagnozzi on Sunday. The fifth-seeded Italian overcame Kristijan Mesaros in another intense match. The top-seeded Croat, who reached this stage of the tournament without dropping a set, had the better start and gained the opening set in the tenth game. This even contest contained more breaks than service holds and Vagnozzi came back to take the second set in the tie-break. Mesaros was moaning, complaining, talking to his coach and swearing almost uninterrupted. Eventually it was the mental strength and experience from the 30-year-old Italian to finally seal victory winning 4-6, 7-6, 6-3 after almost three hours. Symbolically the match ended through a double fault by the Croat, who still has to wait for reaching his first final of the season.
“I didn’t start well today and I was lucky to break him in the ninth game of the second set,” Vagnozzi told afterwards. “I think in the third set, he was more tired than me. I also remained pretty calm throughout the match, which I think was the key to success today,” the Italian added. “It might be a bit of advantage for Lamine tomorrow that I had to stay that long on court today as I also feel very tired now,” Vagnozzi said in prospect of the final tomorrow.
The doubles title was won by Egor Gerasimov and Dzmitry Zhyrmont, who defeated Dino Marcan and Antonio Sancic 6-4, 4-6, 10-6. For the Belarusians it was their first victory as a team and so they were understandably happy afterwards. “We lost a couple of finals before, so we are really satisfied that it worked out for us today,” Zhyrmont said. “We came here with couple of Belarusian players to practice on clay court as we have to play Davis Cup next week in Moldova,” he added and therewith explained the gathering of so many of his compatriots here in Umag.