Three-Time Defending Champ Surging
Cuevas became the first player to advance to the semi-finals in Sao Paulo with a 6-2, 6-7(13), 7-6(5) win over Leonardo Mayer on Friday. The tournament's third seed needed five match points before downing the Argentine in two hours and 55 minutes.
The total points won summarised the close contest: 111 for Mayer, 112 for Cuevas. After the match, the 32-year-old Uruguayan admitted he was proud of his 15-match winning streak at the Brasil Open and happy to have support from the fans in attendance."
"It was a very tough, long match," Cuevas said. "I had a lot of chances in that second set [four match points]. Then in the third, my return wasn't so good, plus Leo was serving so well.
"The [15-match win streak] feels incredible. I felt the support from the Brazilian fans and today a lot of Uruguayans showed up, even the ex-captain of the Uruguayan soccer team [and Sao Paulo FC legend Diego Lugano] showed up. I'm happy to once again be in the semi-finals. I'm going to enjoy this win, play doubles later and focus on tomorrow's match."
With the win, Cuevas moves to 2-1 in his FedEx ATP Head2Head series against Mayer. Cuevas will play second seed Fabio Fognini for a spot in Sunday's final. The Italian advanced to his third semi-final of the year (Sydney, Rio de Janeiro) with a 6-4, 6-2 win over Spaniard Guillermo Garcia-Lopez.
"I raised my game in the second set and I'm happy to advance to the semi-finals here," Fognini, the second seed, said. "It will be a hard match [against Cuevas]; we know each other well and he knows how to win here, but I need to focus on my own game and just worry about that."
"It's another weekend and another event in which I'm playing this deep into an event so that's a good thing," Fognini said. "Two more matches to go; let's see what happens tomorrow and hopefully I come out the winner."
On the top half of the draw, neither player remaining has reached an ATP World Tour final since 2013, and one of the competitors has never reached a tour-level final at all.
Chilean Nicolas Jarry advanced to his first ATP World Tour quarter-final at the Ecuador Open three weeks ago, following that up with his first semi-final last week in Rio de Janeiro. And the 22-year-old isn't slowing down, defeating top seed Albert Ramos-Vinolas 6-7(6), 6-4, 7-6(3) in two hours, 46 minutes to become the first Chilean to reach back-to-back semi-finals since Fernando Gonzalez in 2009.
"I'm happy with this great result, I'm really happy for that victory," Jarry said. "It was similar to yesterday, with the loss in the first set. I had to stay very focused throughout the match. I'm happy with the way things have come out. Anyone could have won... I had to stay aggressive, attacking the ball."
Jarry, who finished 2017 at No. 100 in the ATP Rankings, is projected to claim a new career-high ATP Ranking on Monday of at least No. 66, pending his results for the rest of the week. He can climb higher with a strong performance in the semi-finals against Argentine Horacio Zeballos, who triumphed 6-7(3), 6-2, 6-4 against home favourite Rogerio Dutra Silva.
Zeballos will play in his first tour-level semi-final in Sao Paulo and his first ATP World Tour semi-final since last April in Barcelona.
Did You Know?
Jarry had never played in a tour-level quarter-final prior to the Ecuador Open in Quito. After losing in the quarter-finals there, he has made two consecutive semi-finals in Rio de Janeiro and now in Sao Paulo.