Three Spaniards to Headline Casablanca Semis

By Florian Heer

(April 11, 2014) CASABLANCA – Quarterfinal Friday at the Complexe Sportif Al Amal started on Centre Court with 2010 finalist Victor Hanescu, who took on the tournament’s sixth seed Federico Delbonis for the first time.

The 32-year-old Romanian upset Casablanca’s top-seed and world number 19, Kevin Anderson, winning in straight sets 6-4, 6-4 in the round before on Wednesday. Delbonis, who has struggled on hard courts this year without winning one single match so far, but posted a 9-3 record on clay. So the 23-year-old started with confidence in this match, coming back from one break down to convert his first set point taking the opening set in the tie-break. Delbonis broke in third game of the second set again winning 7-6, 6-3 in one hour and 40 minutes. The Argentine, who recently won his maiden title on the ATP World Tour in Sao Paulo, advanced into his only third career semifinal.

Next it was time for the Spaniards to step into action. Yesterday three of four players from the Iberian Peninsula advanced into the quarterfinal. Traditionally, Casablanca seems to be a good venue for the Spanish players, as in the past three years with Tommy Robredo and two-time Pablo Andújar, all title winners came from Europe’s southwest. The tournament’s fourth seed Marcel Granollers faced Pablo Carreňo-Busta for the first time. The latter found answers to the aggressive and attacking tennis of Granollers and took the opening set in the tie-break with two cross court passing shots. From then on, however, it was the world number 36 from Barcelona, who took command in this match. Granollers gained the second set in the ninth game and even bageled his fellow countryman in the final frame winning 6-7, 6-3, 6-0 in two hours and 22 minutes.

“Fighting for every point until the end of the match was the key to success today,” Granollers told media afterwards.

“The first set lasted one hour and fifteen minutes and it was very tough to lose the set after this time. Nonetheless I kept fighting and in the end I think that I played a very solid match,” the Spaniard said. “It is also never easy to play against a fellow countryman. We practice together in Barcelona and so we know each other very well,” Granollers added.

“Tomorrow I’ll try to play as good as I did yesterday and today. Federico is a very strong player but I’ll try to keep focused on my game and of course to win the match,” the 27-year-old stated about his upcoming semi-final match against Federico Delbonis.

In the next match on Centre Court Benoit Paire went up against Guillermo Garcia-López for the third time. The Frenchman was leading the head to head series 2-1 before the encounter but it was the 30-year-old from Albacete, who drew first blood breaking his opponent’s service in the fifth game. Paire, who was backed by the majority of the crowd evened score in the sixth game but lost his service again in the eleventh game and therewith the set. The match was full of emotions and in the end it was the Spaniard, who stayed focused winning 7-5, 7-6 in one hour and 37 minutes to reach his first semi-final in Casablanca.

“I’m very happy with this win today. Reaching the final four at an ATP Tour event is always a great achievement,” Garcia-López was pleased with his performance. “Benoit is French and we are in Morocco, so it’s normal that he got a very good support today by the crowd but we are tennis players and need to stay focus during the match. I think it was ok,” the Spaniard told about the atmosphere.

Paire was also happy that he has returned to the circuit after his injury. “The most important thing for me is that I’m back on court. I didn’t play very well today but it’s normal after a rest of three month. I lost but I’m happy,” the French said. “I could gain some confidence from this week – not about my game – but I’m positive with my knee. I can play without any pain and that I can go to Monte Carlo now,” Paire added.

In the final match of the day qualifier Roberto Carballés-Baena met lucky loser Andrey Kuznetsov for the first time. The Russian replaced Gael Monfils in the draw reached his second quarterfinal in Casablanca when his second round opponent Jiri Vesely withdrew with illness. Kuznetsov made a disappointing start into this match losing his opening service game and the Spanish youngster was able to serve out in tenth to gain the first set. Carballès had to work hard for his points but played a solid game with great groundstrokes and a lot of confidence. After 88 minutes the Spaniard served the match out winning 6-4, 6-2 to advance into his first ever ATP World Tour semi-final. “I’m very happy with today’s match,” Carballés told me afterwards. “I felt a bit tired with my legs after two hard matches yesterday and today but finally everything went very well. This has been my best week in my career so far and of course I’m totally happy,” the 21-year-old qualifier concluded.

Florian Heer travels the tennis tour with a focus on ATP Challenger events and the ITF Future Circuit!  Follow his twitter account @Florian _Heer.


Grand Prix Hassan II
Casablanca, Morocco


Singles – Quarterfinals
[8] G Garcia-Lopez (ESP) d [3] B Paire (FRA) 75 76(4)
[4] M Granollers (ESP) d P Carreno Busta (ESP) 67(4) 63 60
[6] F Delbonis (ARG) d V Hanescu (ROU) 76(5) 63
[Q] R Carballes Baena (ESP) d [LL] A Kuznetsov (RUS) 64 62

Doubles – Semi-finals
[1] J Rojer (NED) / H Tecau (ROU) d D Bracciali (ITA) / F Delbonis (ARG) 63 64
T Bednarek (POL) / L Dlouhy (CZE) d [2] J Murray (GBR) / J Peers (AUS) 63 75


COURT CENTRAL start 12:00 noon
[1] J Rojer (NED) / H Tecau (ROU) vs T Bednarek (POL) / L Dlouhy (CZE)
Not Before 1:30 pm
[6] F Delbonis (ARG) vs [4] M Granollers (ESP)
[8] G Garcia-Lopez (ESP) vs [Q] R Carballes Baena (ESP)