Heat is on in SA Open as players battle for a place in quarter-finals

2010-02-04 00:00

FELICIANO Lopez looked set to have a difficult match on his hands against unseeded Slovakian Blaz Kavcic, who has risen from 275 to 117 in the world in just a year. But the third seed was sharp enough to prevail 6-2 7-6 (7/4) on day three of the R3,75 million SA Tennis Open at Montecasino in Johannesburg yesterday.

Lopez advances to tomorrow’s quarter-finals and has a chance to rest today as the remaining round of 16 matches play out. His next opponent is fifth seed Indian-American skyscraper Rajeev Ram, who won a 22-point tiebreaker on his way to ousting Germany’s Bjorn Phau.

A shock for South African tennis supporters was the 7-6 (7/2) 7-6 (7/3) defeat of doubles top seeds Wesley Moodie and Kevin Ullyett — and Izak van der Merwe’s exit compounded their woes.

A talking point has been the form of Dustin Brown, who raised a chuckle when asked how he handled the heat. “Hey, I’m from Jamaica, man,” he said.

After upsetting fourth-seed Marco Chiudinelli in the first round, the dreadlocked Brown beat Laurent Recouderc in straight sets yesterday to reach his first World Tour ATP 250 quarter-final.

“I played a very good match, served well, gave no break chances at all,” said Brown. “That makes it a lot easier to play how you want in the return game.”

Brown is a true gypsy of the game, having lived in Germany in his early childhood before moving back to Jamaica. “In my first years as a professional I lived in a caravan, travelling the European circuit to save on costs,” he said.

Following Van der Merwe’s blow-up after a titanic first-set loss to eighth seed Stephane Robert of France, KwaZulu-Natal Open champion Raven Klaasen is the only South African left in the singles. He meets seventh seed Yen-Tsun Lu of Taiwan tomorrow afternoon to fight for a place in the quarter-finals.

Second seed David Ferrer is up against another qualifier in Filip Prpic of Sweden tomorrow afternoon before outright crowd favourite Gael Monfils meets Josselin Ouanna in an all-French affair at 7 pm.

Monfils is a marvel on the court, so be sure to catch this one on SuperSport 6. You won’t be disappointed.

Although all seats are sold for the last three days, tournament director Ian Smith has arranged with stadium engineers to provide another 300 centre-court seats, available at Computicket from 9 am today.

RESULTS

Singles second round: 5-R Ram (US) bt B Phau (Ger) 7-6 (12/10) 7-6 (7/2); 8-S Robert (Fra) bt I van der Merwe (RSA) 7-6 (9/7) 6-1; D Brown (Jam) bt L Recouderc (Fra) 6-4 6-4; 3-F Lopez (Esp) bt B Kavcic (Slo) 6-2 7-6 (7/4).

Doubles first round: S Darcis (Bel)/X Malisse (Bel) bt 1-W Moodie (Rsa)/K Ullyett (Zim) 7-6 (7/2) 7-6 (7/3); R Bopanna (Ind)/A Qureshi (Pak) bt Y Allegro (Sui)/M Chiudinelli (Sui) 4-6 6-3 10-5; K Beck (Svk)/H Levy (Isr) bt T Bednarek (Pol)/M Kowalczyk (Pol) 5-7 6-4 10-7; S Ratiwatana (Tha)/S Ratiwatana (Tha) bt L Recouderc (Fra)/S Robert (Fra) 6-2 6-2.

4-J.Coetzee (RSA)/ R. Wassen (Ned) vs R. Klaasen (RSA)/ I van der Merwe (RSA) 6-4 2-6 7-7, play suspended.

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