Third day in Challenger Finals brought last round robin action, expected good battle between Munoz-De La Nava and Lorenzi, but also unwanted scene of badly injured Guido Pella. In two important matches, Guilherme Clezar produced another Sao Paulo magic to beat Radu Albot 6-2 6-4 and reach the semi-final for the second year in a row.
Also, Daniel Munoz-De La Nava came from behind in 4-6 6-3 6-2 win over 1st seed Paolo Lorenzi, so Brazilian and Spaniard booked their place in saturday"s semi-final. Few minutes after the last match organizers published statement about Pella"s injury, he teared his adductor and was forced to retire from the competition, meaning Daniel Munoz-De La Nava reached final without fight.
There will be only one semi-final match on saturday, between Clezar and Cervantes. Daniel Munoz-De La Nava vs Paolo Lorenzi 4-6 6-3 6-2 (2:16) To no surprise, this was the best and longest match of the day, as two players fought for semi-final spot.
Italian started better, with break in 5th game when Daniel sent backhand wide, and again in 7th game after Spaniard"s poor drop shot. 5-2 advantage was enough for Paolo to secure first set, even if he got broken in very next game.
He delivered love game in the end, ripping backhand crosscourt winner for 6-4. He was much better both on first serve and on return, creating 6 break chances and realizing two of them. Daniel looked tired and out of balance, and needed to step up as soon as possible.
He started to play much better on serve in the second set, winning important points and giving no break chances to his rival. After 7 straight holds on both sides, Spaniard broke in 8th game to go 5-3 up, dictating the game with his forehand.
It was the longest game of the match, Lorenzi wasted 2 game points before he lost serve after netting easy backhand. Despite little troubles, Daniel served out for the set in next game (service winner for the end), forcing deciding set.
Spaniard carried that momentum and broke Lorenzi in very first game of third set, gaining huge psychological advantage. He materialized the break with easy hold, and generally served well until the end, confirming victory after double break, when Lorenzi sent backhand wide in 7th game.
Daniel finished the match with love service game and service winner for the end, celebrating his place in semi-final. He then found out about Pella"s injury and walkover, giving him chance to play for the title on sunday. At the age of 33, he will reach his career best ranking on monday.
Inigo Cervantes vs Farrukh Dustov 6-3 6-3 (1:18) Inigo Cervantes finished round robin stage in style, being only player with 3 wins in the tournament. It was rather expected, as Dustov had no motive to resist harder, having no chance to go to last 4.
Inigo played flawless match, losing only 11 points on serve in the entire match, not letting Dustov break chances. Uzbek played solid match, but was not able to hold his serve maybe until tie break, as he barely won more than 50% of points on service.
7th seed opened the match in better fashion, losing only one point on serve in first two service games and forcing deuce on return. But, he faced huge problems in marathon game 6 (11 minutes of play), wasting 40-15 lead and saving 5 break points before finally managing to hold after service winner.
Dustov couldn"t repeat the same in 8th game, as he was broken at 15, following some fantastic shotmaking from Cervantes. Spaniard finished the set in next game after big mistake from Dustov on the net. In second set Dustov won only 44% of points on first serve, not being able to save any of two break points he gave to the opponent.
After first game he received treatment for lower back, and got broken easily in 3rd game when he missed backhand down the line. Pain in the back obviously hampered him to serve stronger, and it was clear he could not do anything to get back into match.
Both players kept their service games until Cervantes broke again in game 9 with easy return winner against notably tired opponent. Just like fellow countryman, with these 45 points Cervantes will move into Top 90 from monday for the first time, regardless of his result in semi-final.