Gstaad: Dimitrov, Bellucci and Mathieu Are Surprise Semi-finalists

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In a tournament that already featured upsets of the 2nd, 3rd and 4th seeds (Granollers, Wawrinka and Youzhny), Thomaz Bellucci defeated 5th seed Feliciano Lopez to become a surprise semifinalist at Gstaad.  Bellucci, who once reached a career-high ranking of no. 21 in 2010, is having a very consistent run after his win last week at the Braunschweig Challenger.  He reaches his second ATP SF of the year, after his SF appearance at Sao Paulo in February.

Bellucci defeated Lopez in straight sets, 6-3 6-3.  With a BP opportunity at 2-2 in the first set, Bellucci rushed Lopez to the net, causing the Spaniard to hit a wide FH.  Bellucci consolidated his break with an ace.  While neither player served particularly well in the first set, Bellucci was able to attack Lopez’s weaker second serves.  Following a Lopez double-fault at SP, Bellucci took the first set 6-3.  He went up a break in the 2nd set, but Lopez was able to get back on serve, only to be broken straight back.

Bellucci’s aggressive tactics flustered the higher-ranked Lopez, who could not rely on his serve.  Lopez visibly lost his patience, as he made errors when he elected to go for winners too early on in the rallies.  Bellucci held his nerve when he served for the match at 5*-3 — after making a BH error on his first MP, he earned a second MP when he hit a clever dropshot, following a sharply angled forehand to the deuce side that stretched Lopez out wide.  On an ace, Bellucci made it to the SF, where he will face Grigor Dimitrov, who defeated Lukasz Kubot in straight sets, 6-3 6-2.  Dimitrov has now reached his third SF at an ATP event in 2012 (he made the SFs at Queens and Bastad this year).

The third QF between Paul-Henri Mathieu and Ernests Gulbis was a closely contested match that ended with Mathieu coming back from a set down, to win 4-6 6-1 6-4.  Gulbis served impressively in the first set — he hit 6 aces in the first set and he took the first set, 6-4, without incident.  The second set saw a swift momentum shift, as Gulbis’ serve began to betray him — in the 2nd set, Gulbis won only 43% of points behind his first serve, compared to 93% in the first set.  Mathieu played well to draw out the errors in Gulbis’ heavy-hitting game — he stayed patient and wrong-footed Gulbis with point construction that left Gulbis stranded on the baseline, as Mathieu’s forehands sailed by.  Mathieu leveled the match at one set all, 6-1 in the 2nd.

At this point, Gulbis was growing visibly frustrated with himself and he smashed his racquet after an error that gave BP to Mathieu.  Mathieu took the early break with a strong return of serve, to go up 1*-0 in the decider.  Gulbis had time to regroup when a rain delay interrupted the match, with Mathieu leading 2*-1.  After play resumed, however, Gulbis could not take advantage of an important point at 30-30, 3-4* on Mathieu’s serve — he hit an errant dropshot and Mathieu went on to hold.  Eventually, Mathieu would serve out the match and win off a mishit return from Gulbis.  This is an excellent result for Mathieu, who’s been making his way back from surgery.  Mathieu had played the qualifying rounds at Eastbourne in June this year — now at Gstaad , he is a semifinalist, where he will face the winner of the QF between 1st seed Janko Tipsarevic and qualifier Jan Hernych.

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