Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: the arms of a Swissie
Sep. 11, 2002
Di Pasquale Continues Comeback in Bucharest
No. 2 seed Michel Kratochvil and No. 3 Felix Mantilla upset at Open Romania
Arnaud Di Pasquale of France continued his comeback on the ATP circuit on Wednesday by defeating No. 2 seed Michel Kratochvil in Bucharest, while No. 3 seed Felix Mantilla also fell in the second round.
Di Pasquale, who missed the first three months of the year recovering from knee surgery, reached his second quarterfinal of the year with a 7-5, 6-1 win over Kratochvil.
The Frenchman has been plagued by injuries the past two years. In 2001, he was bothered by back problems in June and missed the entire grass court season. Then, Di Pasquale underwent arthroscopic left knee surgery in September and missed the remainder of the year.
Di Pasquale, who reached a career high ranking of No. 39 in 2000, plummeted all the way to No. 378 in early 2002. However, Di Pasquale's recent success has pushed him to No. 122 in the world and with one more win this week, Di Pasquale should easily crack the top 100 in next week's rankings.
Kratochvil started experiencing back pain in the second set, which hindered his performance the remainder of the match. He also pulled out of a doubles match he was scheduled to play later Wednesday with Alberto Martin.
Mantilla lost a three-set battle with countryman Galo Blanco, 6-1, 4-6, 6-2. The win by Blanco might have come as a surprise to Mantilla since he had previous defeated the fellow Spaniard in nine of their first 10 meetings.
Fresh off a win at the Kiev Challenger last week, Irakli Labadze kept his winning streak alive by defeating No. 8 seeded Romanian Adrian Voinea. Despite the crowd being in Voinea's favor, Labadze scored the 7-6(1), 6-1 victory to propel the Georgian into the quarterfinals.
What the Players Said:
Di Pasquale: "It's always nice to win and I played solid. He [Kratochvil] missed more shots in the second set. It's the second quarterfinal I reach this year on the ATP circuit, which feels good. I played mostly Challenger after coming back from my injury. My game is getting better and better."
Labadze: "It's always tough to play a local player. But today he [Voinea] didn't play too well. I know he can play much better. I didn't play that well either in the beginning, but I started to find my rhythm in the second set. I'm in good shape, I won a Challenger last week so I feel confident."
Top seed Andrei Pavel will be looking for another win in front of his countrymen when he takes on Spain's Albert Portas. Pavel hasn't won a title since his victory at the Tennis Masters Canada in Montreal last year and would love to win in his native Romania. However, Portas has won three-of-four meetings with Pavel and this will mark their fifth battle on clay. The two haven't played each other in over two years with their last meetings being a straight sets win for Portas at Roland Garros in 2000.
Sopot winner Jose Acasuso will look to inch closer to his second title of 2002 when he faces Romanian wild card Victor Hanescu. Acasuso defeated veteran Dick Norman in the first round, while Hanescu defeated former Bucharest champion Juan Balcells to reach the round of 16.
Also, veterans Fernando Vicente and Franco Squillari will play for a spot in the quarterfinals on Thursday. Vicente, the No. 4 seed this week, has defeated Squillari all four times they've played in their respective careers, including twice in 2002 (Auckland and Acapulco). Vicente is also looking to win at least one ATP title for the fourth consecutive year, while Squillari is searching for his first title since 2000.
In Thursday's only other match, Irakli Labadze will take on qualifier Juan Giner in familiar territory. These two also met in the second round in Bucharest last year with Labadze rallying to win in three sets.
The Tennis Refuge
You will be missed, Michel Kratochvil!