Humbert, Albot, Gunneswaran and Ymer stay on the title course


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Humbert, Albot, Gunneswaran and Ymer stay on the title course

* Pune, India, $50,000+H (Outdoor Hard) : The top seed Radu Albot is through to his third Challenger semi-final of the season after a 6-3 4-6 6-1 win against Sasi Kumar Mukund in an hour and 49 minutes, earning enough points to return into the Top 100 where he will finish the season. Albot was able to produce more damage with his first serve and despite losing serve three times he controlled the scoreline in most of the match, creating 19 break points and converting six to reach the semis.

The Moldovan grabbed four breaks in the opening set and Mukund responded with an early break in set number two that he kept after saving all six break points, taking the set 6-4 to set up a decider. He stood no chance there, though, suffering two breaks and allowing Albot to continue the title chase.

The 29-year-old Prajnesh Gunneswaran has won the title in Bangalore last week and he is on a verge of entering the Top 100 after another great result in Pune, defeating Aleksandr Nedovyesov 6-4 6-4 in an hour and 23 minutes. The Indian saved all three break points he faced and he broke Nedovyesov once in each set to prevail and stay on the title course.

The opening set was decided in the seventh game when Gunneswaran earned a break, losing one point in the next two service games for a 6-4. Aleksandr fought well until 4-4 in the second set, wasting a game point for a 5-4 and suffering a break that allowed Gunneswaran to seal the deal on own serve in the following game and advance into the last four.

Elias Ymer and Brayden Schnur both needed three sets and more than two hours to dismiss their rivals and join Albot and Gunneswaran in the semis, earning worthy points in the last week of the season and staying in contention for the title.

* Andria, Italy, €43,000+H (Indoor Carpet) : The top seed Ugo Humbert needed just 55 minutes to topple the 5th seed Sergiy Stakhovsky 6-0 6-4 in 55 minutes for his seventh Challenger semi-final of the season. It was another rock solid performance from the upcoming Frenchman, dropping 10 points on serve and never facing a break point.

On the other hand, he grabbed almost half of the return points, dominating in the opening set and earning a late break in the 10th game of the second set to secure his place in the semis in under an hour. There was nothing Stakhovsky could do to stop his rival in the opening set, losing it 6-0 in just under an hour before he raised his level in set number two to stay in touch with his rival.

After nine easy holds on both sides, Humbert grabbed a break in the perfect moment, taking the set 6-4 and closing the match without spending too much time on the court. In the longest match of the day, Filippo Baldi took down a qualifier Illya Marchenko 6-2 2-6 7-5 in two hours and 30 minutes for the place in his fourth semi-final of the season. The Italian won just three points more than his rival and he had to work hard in the third set to emerge as a winner after Marchenko gained the momentum with a solid performance in set number two.

The Ukrainian broke in the first game of the set to move 3-1 up, creating two more break points in game five that could have pushed him closer to the finish line. Baldi fends them off and he earned a break in the following game to level the score at 3-3 before facing an ultimate test in the 11th game when he played against four break points.

Marchenko failed to convert any and he suffered a break in the next game to finish on the losing side in his first tournament in seven months. Quarter-final results:

* Pune, India, $50,000+H (Outdoor Hard) : 
[1]Radu Albot (MDA) vs [WC]Sasi Kumar Mukund (IND) 6-3 4-6 6-1 [1:49]
[4]Prajnesh Gunneswaran (IND) vs Aleksandr Nedovyesov (KAZ) 6-4 6-4 [1:23]
[3]Elias Ymer (SWE) vs [Q]Sebastian Fanselow (GER) 5-7 6-3 6-4 [2:05]
Brayden Schnur (CAN) vs Frederico Ferreira Silva (POR) 7-6(6) 2-6 7-5 [2:26]
* Andria, Italy, €43,000+H (Indoor Carpet) : 
[1]Ugo Humbert (FRA) vs [5]Sergiy Stakhovsky (UKR) 6-0 6-4 [55]
Kevin Krawietz (GER) vs Federico Gaio (ITA) 7-6(4) 4-6 7-6(5) [2:16]
[6]Quentin Halys (FRA) vs Roberto Marcora (ITA) 3-1 Ret. [14]
[8]Filippo Baldi (ITA) vs [Q]Illya Marchenko (UKR) 6-2 2-6 7-5 [2:30]