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Old 07-19-2008, 05:56 PM   #107
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Default Re: Steve Darcis

DUTCH OPEN TENNIS Amersfoort, The Netherlands

Darcis Edges Towards Title Defense

Third-seeded Belgian Steve Darcis came through a heavily rain interrupted clash with top seeded Frenchman Marc Gicquel to book his place in the Dutch Open Tennis final with a 7-6(3), 3-6, 7-5 victory in Amersfoort on Saturday.

Defending champion Darcis captured his maiden ATP singles title in Amersfoort on his second visit last year, knocking out World No. 13 Mikhail Youzhny in the semifinals before defeating Werner Eschauer in the final. He is now chasing his third title after claiming his second at Memphis (d. Soderling) earlier in the season.

With the first two sets shared, rain halted proceedings at 1-1 in the third set of the first semifinal of the day in Amersfoort. When play resumed, the 24-year-old Darcis came tantalizingly close to victory before rain once again interrupted play with Gicquel serving at 5-6, 0-30. However, when players returned to court. Darcis was able to maintain his advantage and four points later had closed out the match after 2 hr., 10min. Darcis also beat Gicquel in the Amersfoort first round last year.

"I'm very happy to be in the final here in Amersfoort once again," said Darcis. "I was nervous in the beginning of the match and a lot of this tension has to do with the fact I defend a lot of points this week. Tomorrow whatever I do it will be a bonus. I just want to enjoy the final tomorrow."

World No. 52 Gicquel was looking to reach his second ATP singles final of the season after finishing runner-up to David Ferrer at ‘s-Hertogenbosch. The 31-year-old also made quarterfinal exits at Estoril (l. to Davydenko) and Casablanca (l. to Simon) earlier in the season. He now slips to a 16-16 match record and to 2-5 lifetime against Belgian opponents.

Darcis, No. 56 in the South African Airways ATP Rankings, is looking to become the first player to defend the Amersfoort title since Balazs Taroczy won five successive titles from 1978-82. The only other players this year to have defended titles are Rafael Nadal (Monte-Carlo, Barcelona, Roland Garros), Ivo Karlovic (Nottingham) and Fabrice Santoro (Newport).

Having failed to win back-to-back ATP main draw matches on any other occasion this season prior to this week, aside from his title win in Memphis, Darcis now improves to 15-14 for the season. He will face either Oscar Hernandez or Albert Montanes in his third ATP singles final.
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