* Chengdu, China, $125,000 (Outdoor Hard) : The most successful Challenger player of all time, Yen-Hsun Lu, advanced to his second semi-final of the season after a 7-6 3-0 win over talented Serb Miomir Kecmanovic, who was forced to retire after 3 games of the second set. 17-year-old from Belgrade saved 3 break points in the first set, including 2 set points in game 12, and he pushed Lu to the limits in the tie break, creating set points at 7-6 and 8-7.
Lu saved them and he finally brought the set home by 10-8 in the tie break, converting his 5th set point in just under an hour. Kecmanovic, who played in the second quarter-final at this level, couldn't fight until the end, being forced to retire after trailing 3-0 in the second set, winning just 2 points in these 3 games.
Another 17-year-old, Yibing Wu, managed to win his match and reach the semis in only his 4th Challenger tournament in a career. Young Chinese played a great match against another youngster, Yusuke Takahashi, beating him 6-3 6-1 in 69 minutes. Wu lost just 10 points on serve, saving both break points to keep his serve intact, and he dominated on the return as well, taking 50% of the points on Takahashi's serve and breaking him 4 times from 8 chances.
Interestingly, Wu faced those 2 break points in the very first game of the match, losing 4 points on serve in that game and 6 in total in the rest of the encounter. He converted his 3rd break point in the next game and that gave him the opener by 6-3.
It was all about Yibing in set number 2, he lost 1 point on serve and broke Takahashi 3 times to rattle off the last 6 games of the match, advancing to the semi-final in style.
* Biella, Italy, €106,500+H (Outdoor Clay) : Filip Krajinovic will play in his 4th Challenger semi-final of the season after a convincing 6-4 6-2 win over the top seed and coeval Marco Cecchinato. Filip was more efficient on his second serve and that made the difference, despite the fact he played against more break points.
He fends off 6 out of 7 to limit the damage in his games and he won 46% of the return points, breaking Marco 4 times from 6 opportunities. Cecchinato opened the match with a break in game 2, the only he will earn before Filip won 5 games in a row to erase the deficit and grab the lead.
He held at love in game 10 to take the set by 6-4 and he soon found himself close to the finish line, breaking Italian twice in the second set to open up a 4-1 gap. Serb saved 3 break points in game 6 and he sealed the deal with another love hold in game 8 to book his place in the last 4.
The 6th seed Joao Souza reached his second semi-final of the season following a one-sided 6-0 6-2 triumph over lucky loser Mikael Ymer in 63 minutes. Young Swede got a chance to play in the main draw and he used it well, but he had nothing left in the tank for this duel, winning just 27 points and never standing any chance in Brazilian's games.
The first set was over in some 22 minutes, Ymer won 7 points in 6 games and it was clear he has no strength to compete on the required level. Sousa was in his own league, racing into a 4-0 lead in the second set as well to grab 10 games in a row, and Mikael finally ended his drought in game 5, putting his name on the scoreboard but only after saving additional 2 break points.
They both served well until the end of the set and Joao brought it home by 6-2, reaching the last 4 much easier than he expected.