Both quarter final matches in the bottom half of the draw at the St Petersburg Open were between an Italian and a Spanish player and with all four of them being clay court specialists, there was a fine mix of long baseline rallies mixed with excellent drop shots and some wonderful points won at the net with deft hand skills. The only pity was that these two very good matches were played in an almost empty venue which echoed with every footfall and ball drop.
In the first match, the only remaining seed in this section, number 4 Fabio Fognini of Italy, took on Roberto Bautista-Agut of Spain. The first set went with serve to 3-3 when Fognini managed to break his opponent in the seventh game and that was all he needed to take the set 6-4. In the second set Fognini broke Bautista-Agut in the third game to take a 2-1 lead. Bautista-Agut fought back to 2-3 and then broke Fognini to level at 5-5. He then led 6-5, but the Italian came back to take the set to a tie break, which he comfortably won 7-1.
Next up on court were Italian Flavio Cipolla and Spaniard Daniel Gimeno-Traver. Gimeno-Traver took the first set with relative ease 6-2, but had a real battle on his hands in the second when Cipolla came out of the blocks in a completely different mindset and raced into an early 3-1 lead. In the fifth game he led 40-0 with a chance for 4-1, but allowed the Spaniard to get back into the game and eventually take the second set 7-5.
Hopefully the semis will attract more spectators to watch the elegant Italian and the wily Spaniard battle for a place in the final.