Quimper, France, €42,500+H (Indoor Hard) : It will be a clsh between the youth and experience in the final of the Quimper Challenger, with Paul-Henri Mathieu and Andrey Rublev advances to the final.
34-year-old Frenchman will play in his 10th Challenger final, with awful 1-8 score so far, only title coming in Segovia way back in 2004. He had some difficulties in the second set against lucky luser from Croatia, Nikola Mektic, who has reached his first Challenger semi-final after An-Ning in 2014.
Mathieu fired 13 aces in first set alone, but on the other hand he struggled to keep pace on the second serve, winning only 42%. Mektic was more stabile, and it turned out to be very interesting set. Frenchman broke his rival in game 3, after great passing shot, and things should have been easier for him in the rest of the set.
In fact it was quite the opposite, as he was forced to save 7 break points! In the marathon game 4 Paul-Henri held but only after 6 deuces and 2 break points saved. Two games later, Mektic again had 2 break points, this time at 15-40, but Frenchman saved both with service winners, to go 4-2 up.
Nikola wasted these 4 chances, but he has got another colossal oportunity, with 0-40 in game 8. Mathieu saved them all, but Croat has had to take the third one, being in control of the point. After 3 poor service games Paul-Henri played well in game 10, clinching it with nice forehand winner.
Despite the all chances he had in the first set, Mektic stayed positive in the second set, storming to win it 6-1. He lost only 2 points on his serve and broke Mathieu in games 2 and 4. Third game of the third set could have been crucial, with Mektic 0-40 in front on return.
Mathieu somehow saved all and held after taking 5 points in a row, and that was the turning point. Mektic was the better player but the veteran hang on in the match like only he knows how, and Croat started to crumble. He lost his serve in games 4 and 6, and like in whole match, Mathieu saved more break points in last game of the matc.
Overall, Mektic created 16 chances to break, and realized only 2 of them, which was not good enough. With this kind of game Paul-Henri will for sure not be able to beat young Russian Andrey Rublev, who qualified here to reach his first Challenger final.
This is the 14th Challenger tournament for the pormising youngster born in 1997, and he became third player of his generation who achieved this, after Alexander Zverev and Taylor Fritz. Rublev didn't signed to play this tournament in time, so he was forced ti qualify, which wasn't easy.
He lost the first set against coeval from France, Alexis Gautier, but played better in the second and third to advance to the last round. There he prevailed over fellow Russian Evgeny Karlovskiy in two tie breaks, to earn main draw spot.
In first round Andrey faced hard-serving Frenchman Albano Olivetti, scoring 6-4 7-6 win. His next rival was friend and Davis Cup collegue Karen Khachanov, one of the best young players on Indoor surfaces.
It was a super tight match, but Andrey prevailed by 7-6 7-5, advancing to the quarter-final, where he again went to distance, beating Lukas Lacko in the third set tie break. At least he didn't need to play semi-final against Stakhovsky, as the Ukrainian withdraws from that match.
Semi-final results : Paul-Henri Mathieu (FRA) vs [LL]Nikola Mektic (CRO) 6-4 1-6 6-1 [1:39]
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