Monfils overcomes injury to reach 19th career final
Gael Monfils and Alexandr Dolgopolov were in action in the first Winston Salem’s semi-final. This was the second match between the two players after the Australian Open clash where Monfils was victorious in four sets.
The French had a difficult start and was broken in his first two service games, after three games Monfils called the trainer due to a left hip problem. Since that medical timeout Dolgopolov wasn’t able to find himself in the first set and despite confirming that double break advantage for a 4 – 0 lead, the Ukrainian allowed Monfils to get back into the set. Dolgopolov had a chance to serve for it at 5 – 4, but missed the opportunity after commiting a backhand unforced error and the set was tied at 5 games all. Both players held serve without problems and the ‘breaker’ was goint to decide the winner of the first set. Dolgopolov earned himself three sets points, one of them on his own serve, but Monfils saved it with an amazing forehand passing shot down the line. The Sliderman claimed the first set on his second set point after another unforced error by Dolgopolov.
Dolgopolov started the second set with more unforced errors and despite being able to save two break points in his first service game, he was broken in the following service game after a double fault giving Monfils a 2 – 1 lead on serve. After three holds of serve, Monfils had a chance to get a double break lead, however Dolgopolov pulled off some great serves to keep himself alive in this contest. Dolgo came motivated from the previous hold and had his first break point opportunity in this second set, but this wasn’t the day for the Ukrainian and after two unforced errors and an ace Monfils was just one game away from the final. With another unforced error from Dolgopolov, Monfils took the second set and also a place in tomorrow’s final.
The Ukrainian just got 44% first serves in and only won 39% of points with his second serve. Monfils played a very solid match with few unforced errors and after the medical timeout only faced one more break point.
Jurgen Melzer gets a place in tomorrow’s final after first career victory against Sam Querrey
Melzer started strong with an opening break on his second break point after a forehand unforced error by Querrey. The Austrian was serving well, looked solid from the baseline and showing all his ability around the net, after four games he was leading by 3 – 1 with 100% points won on first serve. Querrey was struggling with his game and after some forehand unforced errors, the Austrian got a double break lead at 5 – 2 and was now serving to close the first set. After just 26 minutes, with 5 ases and without losing a single point on first serve, Melzer got to a 6 – 2 lead in the match.
Sam was trying to fight back and opened the second set with a love hold of serve, however Melzer was just too strong and after an easy hold the Austrian got another break after producing an amazing return winner.
The American wasn’t going to give up and in the following game Melzer was facing his first break points, with Querrey eventually taking his serve and levelling the set at 2 – 2. With the break back, the home player became more confident and with some quality serves, he got ahead in this set with a hold to love. After two holds of serve, Querrey was looking for a break that would allow him to serve for the first set, but when 15 – 30 down, Jurgen pulled off some amazing strokes and with a lovely backhand lob tied this set at 4 games all. Melzer was serving to stay in the set at 4 – 5 and he felt the pressure with some poor points, two double faults and a backhand unforced error on set points took this match into a third and decisive set.
The conditions got windy in the decider and Querrey seemed to be in control of the situation as he got to two break points, but Melzer won four straight points and held serve. In the following game it was Sam who faced a 15 – 40 situation and the Austrian only needed one chance to get ahead in this decisive set, taking a 2 – 1 lead. In the second set Melzer was in the same situation but allowed Querrey to get the break, this time he managed to hold serve and was now closer to his second season final. At 3 – 5 the American was serving to stay in the match with 40 – 0, but Melzer won the next five points and after a volley forced backhand error, the Austrian booked a place in the final.