Jaziri edges Kubler. Barrere and Kamke reach the final in Lille


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Jaziri edges Kubler. Barrere and Kamke reach the final in Lille

* Qujing, China, $75,000 (Outdoor Hard) : World number 98 Malek Jaziri is playing his third straight Challenger in China and he will compete in the final of Qujing after a 7-6 2-6 6-4 win over the 8th seed Jason Kubler in 2 hours and 11 minutes. This will be the 14th Challenger final for Malek and the first since Istanbul in September 2017, having to work hard to topple the Aussie who won five points more than Jaziri thanks to that second set performance.

Kubler scored four breaks of serve and he gave his serve three times, leading 3-1 in the deciding set before he lost the ground to suffer two breaks and lose five of the last six games. Nothing could separate them in the opening set, they both served well to avoid break points and set up a tie break that Malek won 8-6, converting his second set point to grab the lead.

Returners raised their level in set number two for 12 break points in total and it was Kubler who had the upper hand on the court, breaking Malek three times in a row for a 6-2, looking good to reach the final from there.

He moved closer to that goal with a break in the third game of the decider to open up a 3-1 lead but Jaziri was not to be denied, breaking back in game six to level the score at 3-3 and stop his downfall. The Tunisian earned the crucial break in the 10th game that propelled him over the finish line, completing a great comeback and staying on the title course.

The Slovenian Blaz Rola defeated the other Aussie Alex Bolt 7-5 3-6 6-3 in an hour and 25 minutes to join Jaziri in the final, his ninth in a career and the first since Tallahassee 11 months ago. It as a solid match between two fine servers and we saw only five deuces in two different games, enough to wrap up the match in under an hour and a half.

Rola played a little bit better behind his second serve, dropping only 17 points in 15 service games and he saved four out of five break points to keep the pressure on the other side of the net. Bolt had to play against just three break points and he got broken twice, which cost him dearly in sets one and three.

They needed just half an hour to finish the opening set with 12 games and Rola took the upper hand with a late break at 5-5, closing the set with a hold at 15 in game 12. Bolt raised his level in set number two, losing just five points on serve and breaking Rola in game two on his fourth break point to clinch the set 6-3 and send the match to the distance.

Blaz saved a break point at the start of the decider and that proved to be crucial as he broke Alex in game six to move 4-2 ahead, serving well in the remaining two games to cross the finish line and earn the place in the final.

* Lille, France, €43,000+H (Indoor Hard) : A qualifier Gregoire Barrere came to Lille with one Challenger win since the summer of 2016 but he will now play in his first Challenger final since Quimper 2015 after a 6-2 2-6 6-3 win over the 3rd seed Yannick Maden in just an hour and 19 minutes. It was a fast and fluid match with quick points and just five deuces and both players had to play against three break points.

Barrere converted all chances he got and he saved one break point to make the difference, performing better on his second serve and making a crucial break at the start of the final set. Gregoire was off to a perfect start, losing just four points on serve in the opening set and breaking Maden in games two and eight for a 6-2.

The German responded strongly in set number two, rattling off the last five games of the set for a 6-2 and the momentum before heading into a decider. Barrere recovered his game and he broke at the start of the third set to create a 3-0 gap, serving well in the remaining games to complete the triumph and advance into the final.

31-year-old German Tobias Kamke scored his 200th Challenger win in Yokohama and he will now play in his 15th final at this level, the first since St. Brieuc 12 months ago. In another German-French clash, Kamke took down Maxime Janvier 7-6 6-4 in an hour and 33 minutes, winning just three points more than his rival and breaking him on all three break chances he created. Janvier fought well but he could only score two breaks, which proved not to be enough in the end.

They needed some time to find the right rhythm, with four breaks of serve in the opening six games, and Kamke saved another break point in game nine to remain on the positive side of the scoreboard. From 3-0 down in the tie break, he won seven of the last nine points to win it 7-5 and grab the opening set, scoring mini-breaks in the sixth and seventh points.

The German dropped just six points on serve in the second set, never facing a break point and stealing rival's serve in the third game to gain the crucial advantage, keeping it until the end for the place in the final. Semi-final results:

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