Quarter-final time at SAA Tennis Open

2008-02-15 00:00

AFTER the dust — but sadly not the wind — had settled at Selborne Park yesterday, the quarter-final berths at the SA Airways Tennis Open had been signed and sealed.

Second seed Stefan Koubek took less than an hour to beat Marcus Sarstrand of Sweden 6-3 6-2 and was happy with his performance.

“I felt great, I controlled the match,” Koubek said. “I like to hit the ball and not chase the ball, so the wind was a factor, but I guess if you play good tennis it’s going to be fine. I served really good, especially the second set, and then it went well.”

The Austrian said France’s unseeded Jeremy Chardy, who upset number eight Stefano Galvani of Italy 6-2 3-6 6-3, would feel sore for their quarter-final match today.

“He had a three-setter, so that is good for me.”

Looking ahead to Sunday, Koubek was guarded. “It may not be me and [first seed] Ivan [Ljubicic] in the final, as everyone is trying to beat us, so it’s tough. But I have ATP points to defend and I like South Africa very much, so I want to do well.”

Regarding the vexing question of match-fixing in tennis, Koubek was confident that the problem has been nipped in the bud.

“Match-fixing is under control. Now, the [men’s tennis world governing body the Association of Tennis Professionals] ATP is like Scotland Yard, checking everything. I have never been approached but if you are, you have to tell the ATP immediately, otherwise you get suspended.

“It must have been happening, though, otherwise the ATP wouldn’t have gone to these lengths.”

Third seed Thomas Johansson of Sweden defeated South African Izak van der Merwe 6-4 6-2 in a match in which he praised his opponent’s aggressive style.

“Izak plays a lot like [fellow South African] Wesley Moodie. He has an aggressive style, which suits him because he is a big, tall guy. If he can work on his serve and volley he will go far.”

Johansson again had problems with the chair umpire. “Communication between the umpire and player is very important,” he said.

“Some chair umpires have got a bad attitude; those that are always adamant that they are right … the temperature is great but fans will see better tennis if the wind drops.”

Today’s quarter-finals: 1-Ivan Ljubicic (Cro) vs 5-Rik de Voest; 3-Thomas Johansson (Swe) vs Josselin Ouanna (Fra); 6-Frederico Gil (Por) vs Gary Lugassy (Fra); Jeremy Chardy (Fra) vs 2-Stefan Koubek (Aut).

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