The first semi-final at the Apia International in Sydney has been set as top seed Juan Martin del Potro will meet fourth seed Dmitry Tursunov for a place in the final. This marks the third encounter between the two, with Del Potro leading the head-to-head 2-0.
World no. 5 Juan Martin del Potro was forced into another three set battle yesterday, this time against Czech no. 2 Radek Stepanek, who snatched the second set 6-3 before succumbing in the third. The match came on the heels of another gruelling contest for the Argentine against Nicolas Mahut, who held a set and break advantage before Del Potro rallied to win the match. The successive wins keep his hopes alive at building momentum ahead of the Australian Open, where he intends on making an impact.
Del Potro is coming off an outstanding season, where he finished No. 5 for the first time since 2009 and in Top 10 for fourth time in six years and won four ATP 500 titles: Rotterdam, Washington, Tokyo and Basel.
The fourth seed, Dmitry Tursunov, is into the semi-finals with successive wins over Lukas Rosol and Denis Istomin, who he defeated in the quarter-finals 7-6, 6-2 to reach the final eight in Sydney. The world no. 32 is still searching for his first ATP World Tour final since June 2011 at ‘s-Hertogenbosch and after reaching two semi-finals last season (Washington and Valencia), he will certainly be looking to break that streak with an upset victory over the “Tower of Tandil” tomorrow afternoon.
The two athletes have met on two previous occasions spanning over three year, with the first encounter taking place in Valencia in 2011 and the second in Washington last year, the second of which went to a deciding set. Del Potro has not been at his best since arriving in Syndey but has managed to rally in both his matches and will likely find the strength to do the same tomorrow against Tursunov.
Prediction: Juan Martin Del Potro in Three Sets