ATP Tour

Monfils books semis spot

Gael Monfils (AFP)
Gael Monfils (AFP)

North Carolina - France's Gael Monfils won an error-filled match over Spaniard Fernando Verdasco 6-7 (8/10), 6-4, 6-4 on Thursday to reach the semi-finals of the ATP Winston-Salem Open.

The 15th seeded Monfils will Friday face off for a place in the final when he takes on Ukrainian tenth seed Alexandr Dolgopolov, who beat Lu Yen-hsun of Taiwan 7-6 (7/2), 6-3.

"It's always good to be in the semis after two big wins," said Monfils.

Austrian Jurgen Melzer came through three rain interruptions to take out Russian Dmitry Tursunov 6-4, 6-3. He will play sixth seed Sam Querrey, a winner over Ricardas Berankis 6-3, 6-4.

Querrey repeated his winning scenario over the Lithuanian after dominating him for the Los Angeles title in July, 2012. The Califonian winner fired ten aces and broke four times.

Berankis entered the match without having lost serve all week, but dropped to 1-7 in quarter-finals over his career with the loss in 69 minutes.

Monfils and seventh seeded Verdasco seemed to play their third match as if neither wanted to win in the closing stages.

The Frenchman, who is back this week after an ankle injury which forced him to miss the two Masters 1000 events this month, could not take advantage of many of the mistakes by Verdasco, whose unforced error count totalled well over 60 in the over two hour contest.

He hadn't played since reaching the Umag claycourt final in July.

"I lost two weeks of training because I sprained my ankle," Monfils said.

"This week means a lot to me. I was playing well before the ankle and had done well on clay in Europe. I was doing well when I got hurt.

"It's good to be winning matches to finally get set for the US Open," added Monfils, who has returned to the top 50 in the world after falling as low as 108th on February 2.

Monfils improved to 3-0 over Verdasco in the match-up between the pair of former top 10 players in the final tune-up event before the US Open, which begins Monday.

Verdasco failed to impress in his first hardcourt quarter-final of the season. Of his five previous 2013 quarter-finals, two came on grass and three on clay.

The Spaniard, who suffered a neck injury earlier in the year, produced 11 aces but had a dozen double-faults in a patchy performance. At times it looked as if both were struggling for energy.

Verdasco produced almost half of his errors in a first set which lasted nearly an hour. But he won it after saving Monfils set points and going through on his own second opportunity.

Monfils won the second set and came from 3-1 down in the third to finally advance as his seventh ace set up a match point. He clinched it when Verdasco hit a forehand long over the baseline.

Monfils won his only other match with Dolgopolov in the first round of the Australian Open in January.

Dolgopolov dealt Lu his ninth career quarter-final defeat without a win as he advanced into the last four in one hour, 38 minutes. The Ukrainian owns the series 3-0 including a win here last year.

Results on Thursday in the ATP Winston-Salem Open:


Alexandr Dolgopolov (UKR x10) bt Lu Yen-Hsun (TPE) 7-6 (7/2), 6-3

Gael Monfils (FRA x15) bt Fernando Verdasco (ESP x7) 6-7 (8/10), 6-4, 6-4

Jurgen Melzer (AUT x9) bt Dmitry Tursunov (RUS) 6-4, 6-3

Sam Querrey (USA x6) bt Ricardas Berankis (LTU) 6-3, 6-4

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