Thursday brought 4 quick matches and very clear situation in front of friday's last round robin matches. In Group A Inigo Cervantes reached semi-final following his second win over better ranked player, toppling Paolo Lorenzi 6-4 6-3.
In other match, Daniel Munoz-De La Nava beat Farrukh Dustov, having troubles only in first set, and he will play against Lorenzi tomorrow to decide who of them will join Cervantes in last 4. Group B is also crystal clear, as second seed Guido Pella booked semi-final place with second win in 2 days, and Marco Cecchinato being eliminated.
Thus, Radu Albot and Guilherme Clezar will fight for 2nd place tomorrow, winner of that match will also reach semi-final. Daniel Munoz-De La Nava vs Farrukh Dustov 7-6 6-1 (1:22) 3rd seed Daniel Munoz-De La Nava scored his first win in Challenger Finals, beating Farrukh Dustov 7-6 6-1 in 82 minutes.
This means Daniel will play with Lorenzi tomorrow for the place in semi-final, while Dustov going home, as he was defeated yesterday too by Lorenzi. This was the second match of these two after clash in 2008, interestingly also on Indoor clay in France.
In close first set both players made one break each but Spaniard was better in tie break. After initial holds, Dustov was first to get broken in 5th game, following forehand errors. Still, he came back in 8th game, breaking at 15 thanks to nice shots from return and backhand.
Servers had no troubles in the next 4 games, so the winner of first set was to be decide in tie break. It started with mini break on both sides, Daniel made another one before Farrukh neutralized it with amazing crosscourt backhand winner for 4-3.
Still, Spaniard made two mini breaks after that, and finished the set with service winner. Second set was much shorter affair, lasting less than 25 minutes. Munoz-De La Nava lost only 4 points on serve and quickly finished the match followin the breaks he made in 2nd and 4th game.
He won 9 points in the row since the end of first set but Dustov had game point in second game, only to be broken after fantastic crosscourt backhand passing shot by Spaniard. Daniel won next game to love, just like his first in this set, and soon build 4-0 lead after another break.
Dustov looked downcasted, knowing he can't get back into match or keeping chance to play in semi-final. Left-handed Spaniard finished the match on his own serve in 7th game, saving nice forehand winner for the last point.
He played really good match, dominating from baseline, and will need something similar tomorrow against Lorenzi too, in very important duel. Inigo Cervantes vs Paolo Lorenzi 6-4 6-3 (1:36) Inigo Cervantes is first player who booked semi-final birth, after straight sets victory over 1st seed Lorenzi.
This was their 4th match, all on Challengers, and Italian won all previous without lost set, so this was revenge for Cervantes in some way. Both players struggled with first serve percentage, serving under 50%, with Cervantes better both on first and second serve.
Still, stats doesn't always gives full picture, because he gave Lorenzi 7 break chances (saved 6), coming back from 15-40 in consecutive games in the last part of the match. On the other hand, Italian failed to save any break point, as he lost his serve 4 times.
Inigo opened the match in better fashion, breaking in 3rd game after Lorenzi's double fault (Italian felt in point before, taking some time to recover and probably loss focus). Spaniard broke again in 7th game for healthy 5-2 advantage, when Paolo netted forehand.
1st seed managed to break back in next game, but it was too late to catch other break, so Inigo won first set 6-4. In second set both players kept the serve until 5th game when Cervantes broke after Lorenzi sent backhand long.
Italian had chance to get back in the set in very next game, as he had 2 breaks points on 15-40. Cervantes saved both in great style, keeping the serve in the end and going 4-2 in front after service winner. Same scenario happened two games later, with Lorenzi again reaching 15-40 on return.
He really had nice chance on second one, but after 19 strokes rally Inigo won the point with classy drop shot, finishing the game with an ace. In next game Lorenzi served to stay in the match, but reletend after wasting 5 game points, in what turned to be by far the longest game of the match.
Cervantes realized first match point when Paolo sent forehand long, to win another match and 15 new points, securing place in last 4.