INTERNATIONALER RAIFFEISEN GRAND PRIX
St. Poelten, Austria
May 20, 2004
Melzer Keeps Austrian Hopes Alive
Austrian Jurgen Melzer rallied from a 4-6, 2-4 deficit against Olivier Rochus to defeat the Belgian No. 2,4-6, 7-6(5), 6-2 and advance to his fourth career ATP semifinal, the first of the year. Melzer now faces qualifier and another Belgian, Xavier Malisse, who defeated Austrian qualifier Daniel Koellerer 6-1, 3-6, 6-1.
In the top half of the draw, No. 6 seed David Sanchez of Spain reached his second ATP semifinal of the season with a 3-6, 6-1 retired victory over No. 3 and last year’s finalist Nikolay Davydenko. The Russian retired due to a chest muscle injury.
Sanchez will play No. 8 seed Filippo Volandri, who defeated Victor Hanescu of Romania 6-4, 6-3. The No. 1 Italian is playing in his first ATP semifinal of the season.
WHAT THE PLAYERS SAID
Melzer: “I served very well, especially in the tie-break. I played a great tie-break. I'm really happy that I won and it's great to be in the semifinals at home. The crowd and the atmosphere here is amazing.”
On playing Malisse next: “He has a very strong serve and forehand. I watched his match today against Koellerer and know that he can play even better. It should be an interesting match.”
Malisse: “I started out very well in the first set, but then started to make more mistakes with my backhand. I was hitting it short and then hitting it out when I tried to play long. I had to battle to win. I'm just happy to get through and be able to play another match tomorrow.”
On playing Melzer next: “I think it will be very close. Against Jurgen I will have the whole crowd against me.”
Rochus: “I led 6-4, 4-2 so it's disappointing. I missed an important forehand in the tie-break and that swung the match his way. I had my chances and then he started serving better and better. It was harder to break him from then and I didn't serve very well.”
“He started with a lot of errors and then eventually the match turned and the crowd got behind him. I know I can play better and there are lots of things I can improve so that's encourageing.”
Volandri: “I’m feeling good, confident and strong physically too. The match today wasn't as tough as against Sluiter but I still had to be focused and concentrated. Tomorrow will be the hardest match of the week for me I think. Sanchez has been practicing very well and Davydenko has won a lot of matches recently so it will be tough.”
Three of the semifinalists are the No. 1 player from their respective country as No. 1 Austrian Jurgen Melzer takes on qualifier and No. 1 Belgian Xavier Malisse for the first time while David Sanchez, the No. 6 seed, plays No. 1 Italian Filippo Volandri, the No. 8 seed.
Sanchez, a semifinalist in St. Poelten last year, is the only player left to win an ATP title, having captured crowns in Vina del Mar and Bucharest last year.
Melzer is trying to become the first Austrian to win the title in St. Poelten since former No. 1 Thomas Muster in 1995. Markus Hipfl was the last Austrian to reach the final three years ago. Melzer is also looking to reach his second career ATP final. He was a finalist in Newport (l. to Ginepri) last July. Malisse is 0-4 in his career in ATP finals, reaching his last title match in Atlanta (l. to Roddick) three years ago.
In the second semifinal, Volandri attempts to reach his second career ATP final after a runner-up effort in Umag last July. The Italian won the previous meeting against Sanchez last summer when the Spaniard retired at 0-6, 0-3 in the first round of the Mercedes Cup in Stuttgart.