* Milan, Italy, €43,000+H (Outdoor Clay) : The only Challenger of this week is going on in Milan, and it reached the semi-final stage after one-sided quarter-final matches on Friday. Namely, all 4 encounters were ended in straight sets, lasting less than 80 minutes, and there are Marco Cecchinato, Guido Pella, Federico Delbonis and Tommy Robredo still in the chase for the title.
The top seed Marco Cecchinato carried his form from Todi, where he played in the final last week, beating the qualifier Juan Ignacio Londero 6-2 6-3 in 74 minutes for his 6th semi-final of the season at this level. Marco defended his second serve better and he was the more effective player in the crucial moments, saving 6 out of 7 break points and stealing rival's serve 4 times from 6 opportunities.
Londero had a great chance to open the match with a break, missing 3 break points in the first game, and he couldn't keep the same level in the rest of the set. Cecchinato broke him in games 4 and 8 to grab the opener by 6-2, but Londero bounced back at the start of the second, taking a 2-0 lead.
Nevertheless, home player recovered in time to annul the deficit and go in front, rattling off 5 games in a row (breaks in games 4 and 6) to find himself just a game away from the win. He crossed the finish line in game 9, converting his 4th match point to reach the last 4.
Federico Delbonis beat Cecchinato last week in Todi final, and he will have a chance to win back-to-back titles, advancing to the semi-final with a 6-1 6-4 triumph over the 7th seed Uladzimir Ignatik in just 71 minutes. After Roland Garros, Delbonis decided to get back on the Challenger level in order to burst his ranking position, and it is so far so good for him, as he made 3 semis in a row, with a chance to reach 3 consecutive finals as well.
The Argentine served at only 53% but he experienced no troubles in his games what so ever, dropping 11 points on serve and saving both break points. On the other hand, Ignatik was in all kind of troubles on his second serve, and he got broken 3 times from 6 chances Delbonis had.
Federico took control early in the first set, mastering the points with good serves and forehands, claiming the opener 6-1 after winning 5 straight games and 13 out of the last 15 points. Ignatik fought better in set number 2, he reached 3-3 without any troubles, and he had a break point in game 4 that could send him in front.
Still, he played a loose service game to trail 4-3, and that was Federico needed to bring the win home, taking the last 10 points on his serve to reach the last 4 in style.
The other Argentine, Guido Pella, scored the most dominant win of the day, destroying Gianluca Mager 6-1 6-1 in an hour. Pella saved all 3 break points to keep his serve intact, and he was all over his rival on return, winning almost 60% of the return points and breaking Mager 5 times.
Italian struggled to find his shots in the first set, losing serve 3 times to find himself 6-1 down in less than half an hour. He looked better at the start of the second set, having a break point in game 3, but Pella took charge from that moment on, conquering the last 5 games of the set to perform a pretty effortless win and book place in the semis.
35-year-old Tommy Robredo, the winner of 11 ATP titles on clay, missed 7 months of action in 2016 and he dropped badly in the rankings. Now, the veteran is trying to get back inside the Top 200 as soon as possible, and he enjoys a good run here in Milan, advancing to the last 4 with a 6-3 6-4 victory against Jose Hernandez-Fernandez in 78 minutes. Tommy played well, losing 13 points in 10 service games and dropping serve once, and he was solid on the return as well, breaking his rival 3 times from 5 chances to get the things done in straight sets.
It was a shaky start for both players, with 3 breaks in the first 4 games, and Tommy managed to grab to, building a 3-1 lead. They served well in the rest of the set so it was 6-3 for the Spaniard, who took an early lead in set number 2 as well.
That break in the first game proved to be crucial, as there were no more break points in the rest of the encounter, and Hernandez-Fernandez couldn't pull the break back. This will be the first Challenger semi-final for Tommy since Seville 2012. Quarter-final results: