Last week’s Stuttgart conqueror Fabio Fognini of Italy maintained high level of form and completed the ninth straight victory by dismissing third seed Nicolas Almagro in an entertaining semi-final clash at German Open Tennis Championship today – the twelfth-seeded Italian reached his second consecutive ATP final without dropping a set in Hamburg. On the other hand, the Spaniard – who threw out defending champion Juan Monaco in the previous round – was playing his third Hamburg semi-final in a row.
26-year-old Fognini started strong and broke his opponent in the opening game of the match by converting the break point number five. Almagro’s serving did not improve and he could only get on the board after escaping a 0-40 threat at 0-2. He nearly suffered his second loss of serve at 3-5 when he rescued five set points to keep hoping for a comeback. The dominant Italian indeed faced his first break point in the following game, but kept calm and served out the set nonetheless. Almagro made a mess of his first service game in the set two and got broken to love, yet he pegged back to make it 2-2 and confirmed his break to take the lead for the first time in the match. The Spaniard was playing more aggressively now, whilst Fognini rose to the occasion in crucial moments and forced a tie-break, fending off a set point in the process. He took advantage of Almagro’s errors to get in a commanding position in the breaker and was eventually in possession of five match points – he completed his 6-4, 7-6 (1) triumph after the disillusioned Spaniard conceded his seventh double fault. Only three out of twenty-five break points were converted during the encounter that lasted one hour and fifty minutes.
According to the post match statement, Fognini will be well prepared for his final adversary: “I will try to stay focused on my game because at the moment it is working really good. I’m really confident and I’m really focused, especially on the important points. I know what I have to do and what not.”
22-year-old Federico Delbonis, who won a quarterfinal thriller against Fernando Verdasco yesterday, entered his first ATP final after seeing of uninspired top seed Roger Federer in straight sets – a well-deserved success for the Argentine qualifier who impressed with an accurate and powerful display.
It seemed like the match would go according to the Swiss Maestro’s plans as he broke his challenger early on, but the break remained unconfirmed. FedEx failed to stamp his authority on the proceedings later in the clash, whilst 114th-ranked Delbonis held his service games with ease and even wasted a couple of set points at 5-4. A four-time Hamburg conqueror Federer had his opportunity to wrap up the opener in the tie-break, yet surprisingly it was the Argentine who moved one set ahead. The Swiss got into more trouble when he faced a break point at 3-3 in the following set, but he bailed himself out with an ace and eventually managed to hold. The missed opportunity almost came back to haunt the Argentine during his following serve, yet the set two would ultimately be decided in a tie-break as well. Delbonis showed no nerves in the thirteenth game and capitalized on Federer’s errors to close out the match in less than two hours of play. End result: 7-6 (7), 7-6 (4).
After the match, the Swiss admitted his opponent was simply better and added: “Both sets could have gone either way. So, it’s clearly a pity I couldn’t win either of the sets because I was starting to feel better towards the end of the match. But unfortunately I couldn’t push him further and create more chances today.” The delighted Argentine was in a far better mood: “I feel like I’m dreaming,” he said. “My key was to enjoy the match and enjoy playing this kind of player, because he’s the best of all time.”