(October 19, 2013) VIENNA, Austria -The semifinals on Saturday at the Erste Bank Open featured the top two seeds of the tournament. Both are former champions in Vienna and are still in the race to qualify for the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals in London.
In the first match of the day, second seeded Tommy Haas took on the tournament’s eighth seed, in the person of Lukas Rosol, for the first time on the ATP Tour. The 35-year-old German is currently twelfth in the ATP Race standings and is attempting to qualify for the first time in his career. However, Saturday’s encounter started in a frustrating way for Haas. Rosol capitalized on his first break point in the fourth game, served big with 81% first services and also hit a couple of baseline winners with his huge forehand. Consequently the Czech closed the first set out in the ninth game.
In the middle of the second frame, Rosol began to hit some unforced errors. This was the moment, Haas had been waiting for. The German gained his first break point opportunity after 43 minutes in the sixth game but wasn’t able to convert. Nonetheless, Haas got another chance on set point in the tenth game. This time, the German veteran was wide awake and took the second frame.
There was only one break point opportunity in the final set, which was saved by Rosol in the ninth game. As a consequence, the match went into the tie-break and Haas appeared to be the more consistent player in the end. At 6-0, Rosol destroyed his racket, received a second warning from umpire Cedric Mourier and therewith a point penalty. This meant the end of the match. Haas advanced into his 28th career final on the ATP World Tour winning 3-6, 6-4, 7-6 after one hour and 46 minutes. “For moments like these today, I’m still on the court. It’s a fantastic feeling to play in front this great crowd,” Haas said right after the match. “Lukas played very well today. He had good length in his shots and so it was difficult for me to find the right timing. Playing against him in this form is one of the most difficult tasks on the Tour,” the second-seeded admitted his opponent’s performance today. “It was important for me that I played a solid tie-break to finally win the match,” Haas was relieved.
In the second semifinal top-seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga met Robin Haase for the second time. The Frenchman won their only previous encounter at the ATP Masters 1000 in Madrid earlier this year. The Dutchman had to save set points in the tenth game and broke his opponent’s service in the following. After 47 minutes Haase served an even first set out. Tsonga, who played with a big tape on his right thigh, seemed to have problems with his movement and wasn’t quick on his feed as usual. The French lost his service in the seventh game and Haase confirmed the break but wasn’t able to serve the set out in the following. Eventually in the tie-break, the 26-year-old Dutchman fought the top-seed down winning 7-5, 7-6 after 93 minutes. “I came here to win, I gave my best but it wasn’t enough today,” Tsonga said afterwards without looking for any excuses. “I will have some rest the next week and then I’m going to prepare for the Masters in Paris,” the French told about his plans. Haase, who upset third-seeded Fabio Fognini in the round before was understandably happy by reaching his second final of the season. “I feel good here, I like the tournament and I can relax in my free time. I think when you feel good, you have the possibility to play better,” the Dutchman explained his success on Austrian soil. “It’s a final and anything can happen. For sure I need to play my best tennis to even get a chance against Tommy tomorrow. He is a great player. His style of playing tennis is not that what I like most, so I think I will go into the final as the underdog. Nevertheless I’m happy that I already got that deep into the tournament,” Haase said.
The tournament’s local hero in person of Dominic Thiem was still in the doubles draw. Together with his partner Maximilian Neuchrist, the Austrian tandem faced Lukas Rosol and Florin Mergea for a spot in tomorrow’s final. Thiem’s fairytale in Vienna has come to an end, though. The Czech-Romanian combination was the dominant team throughout the match and advanced into the final winning 6-4, 6-4 in 61 minutes.
Their opponents tomorrow will be the third-seeded team of Julian Knowle and Daniel Nestor who defeated Jaroslav Levinsky and Mate Pavic in straight sets 6-3, 6-2 after only 50 minutes.
Florian Heer travels the tennis tour with a focus on ATP Challenger events and the ITF Future Circuit. He’s in Vienna covering the ATP 250 event, the Erste Bank Open as media. His special interest is in Spanish tennis and you can follow his twitter account @armadadetenis.