Lopez Edges Berdych In Big-Serving Stuttgart Duel
Pouille advances on Friday
Feliciano Lopez is one match away from reaching his fourth grass-court final – and his first in three years. The Spaniard battled hard at the Mercedes Cup to beat third-seeded Czech Tomas Berdych 6-7(4), 6-3, 6-4 in two hours and nine minutes on Friday for a place in the Stuttgart semi-finals.
Berdych could not convert two set-point chances at 6-5, 15/40 on Lopez's serve in the first set, but seized early control of the tie-break in a big-serving encounter. Serve-volleyer Lopez broke for a 4-2 lead in the second set, then in the seventh game of the decider to improve to a 12-12 match record in 2017. Berdych hit 21 aces, but Lopez struck 19 aces and importantly saved all nine break points he faced.
Lopez has won two grass-court titles at the Aegon International in 2013 (d. Simon) and 2014 (d. Gasquet). He also finished runner-up at the 2014 Aegon Championships (l. to Dimitrov).
Lopez will next challenge sixth seed Mischa Zverev, who lost just 12 points on serve to win an all-German battle over Tommy Haas 6-4, 6-4. Zverev is through to his first semi-final in Stuttgart after two previous appearances in the last eight (2009, 2015). He also evens his FedEx ATP Head2Head with Haas at 1-1 after falling in their lone meeting eight years ago on the grass courts in Halle.
Zverev is aiming to reach his second ATP World Tour final in less than a month after finishing runner-up in Geneva (l. Wawrinka). However, Lopez has won both of their previous FedEx ATP Head2Head meetings.
A single break of serve at 1-1 in the opening set was all the momentum Zverev needed to take the early advantage against Haas. The sixth seed bravely fought back from 3-4, 0/40 in the second set, then fired a backhand passing shot winner in the next game to steal another break. A service winner from Zverev wrapped up the match in 67 minutes.
Fourth seed Lucas Pouille survived a mid-match surge from home favourite Philipp Kohlschreiber to reach the final four 6-4, 2-6, 6-3. The Frenchman avenged a loss to Kohlschreiber from their only other FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting this February in the Rotterdam quarter-finals. Pouille improves to 5-0 in ATP World Tour quarter-finals this season as he reaches his first career semi-final on grass. He won earlier this year in Budapest (d. Bedene) and was a finalist in Marseille (l. Tsonga).
Awaiting him on Saturday is fellow Frenchman Benoit Paire, who held on to defeat Jerzy Janowicz 6-1, 7-6(4). Paire went on a five-game run to take the opening set and won the final three points of the second-set tie-break to prevail in 61 minutes. He looks to reach his first final of the year after semi-final showings in Chennai, Montpellier and Marrakesh.
Pouille and Paire's lone FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting also took place in Germany, with Pouille winning on the red clay of Hamburg in 2015.