Gimeno-Traver tops Robredo, dominant wins for Vanni and Lloyd

Tennis - Henri Laaksonen, Paolo Lorenzi, James Ward, Andrea Arnaboldi and Stefano Napolitano all reach the semis

by Jovica Ilic
Gimeno-Traver tops Robredo, dominant wins for Vanni and Lloyd

* Chengdu, China, $125,000 (Outdoor Hard) : The top seed Henri Laaksonen will compete in his first Challenger semi-final since Knoxville last year after a 6-7 6-2 6-3 win over the promising Chinese Yibing Wu in an hour and 41 minutes. Wu has been able to play only a few tournaments so far in 2018 due to an injury and he will need a few more good runs in order to regain his form and continue his climb through the ATP rankings.

Despite losing the opening set, Laaksonen played rock solid tennis behind his initial serve, firing 15 aces and dropping only 18 points on serve in the entire match. The Chinese couldn't follow that pace in sets two and three, getting broken three times in total from as many chances he gave to Henri and he failed to reach the final in front of the home crowd.

Nothing could separate the rivals in the opening set, with easy 12 holds on both sides that led towards a tie break that Wu claimed 7-3 with two mini-breaks. Confident in his serve, Laaksonen continued to play well in the second set and he broke Wu in games four and eight for a 6-2, gathering the momentum before the decider.

There, he sailed through his service games as well and Yibing lost his serve in game four to hand the win to his rival after a hold at 15 in game nine from the Swiss for his fourth Challenger final. * Segovia, Spain, €85,000+H (Outdoor Hard) : Luca Vanni has played in two Challenger finals so far in 2018 and he is en route to repeat that in Segovia after a 6-1 6-4 triumph over the fellow Italian Gian Marco Moroni in just 63 minutes. Vanni delivered fury from his initial shot, losing just nine points in his games and never facing a break point.

His 20-year-old rival failed to match those numbers with his serve and he faced five break points, getting broken thrice to end his run in the quarters. Vanni found his range right from the start and he earned breaks in games two and six for a 6-1 in less than 30 minutes.

Moroni played better in set number two but he suffered a break in game seven, allowing Vanni to seal the deal at 5-4 and reach the semi-final. * Lexington, USA, $75,000 (Outdoor Hard) : The 21-year-old Lloyd Harris is one of the most promising players from Africa and he has made a nice progress through the rankings so far in 2018 and he will perform in the third Challenger semi-final after a commanding 6-3 6-2 win over a former University of North Carolina player Ronnie Schneider in 80 minutes. A tall South African served well, saving one break point he faced and scoring three breaks to wrap up the win with no problems, hoping for more of the same in the rest of the tournament.

Lloyd claimed the opening set with a break in game four, holding with ease to clinch the opener 6-3. He was the dominant figure on the court in the second set as well and he stole rival's serve in games three and seven to seal the deal and stay on the title course. Quarter-final results:


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Henri Laaksonen Paolo Lorenzi Stefano Napolitano