Hello all and greetings again from the wonderful city of Gstaad. Before we recap the day of exciting semifinal play, there is some disheartening news to pass along. The dairy cow, Juliette, given as a gift to Roger Federer after his 2004 Wimbledon victory, was slaughtered earlier this week amidst conflicting reasoning. While official reports state that this unfortunate incident was a necessary evil, as the bovine was said to be producing insufficient amounts of milk, this act has angered both animal lovers across the globe as well as the once proud Gstaad champion, Roger Federer. Fed has been quoted as saying that the tournament brass had poor Juliette put down only to get his attention, and to show their anger over Roger not playing his home event. Further, Rog claims that he most certainly will never play Gstaad again after this incident, but that even though he may not show it, he still has a place for the Swiss in his heart. As for the opinion of this reporter...These Swiss sure are crazy, but mighty hospitable if I do say so myself.
Now on to what is truly important, the tennis. We start with the first singles semifinal to be played, the match up of good friends and doubles partners Juan Ignacio Chela and Joachim Johansson. While many were looking forward to this encounter of contrasting styles, the clay clearly won out today. Chela, at home on the dirt, dismantled the Swede, who for the first time this season, truly looked at a lost on his least favorite surface. The number one seed took advantage of his great movement, forcing Johansson to the defensive for much of the match. The final scoreline read 6-2 6-1, as the Argentine advanced the tomorrow's final in just under one hour's time. There he will face fellow Argentine and dirt-baller, second seed, Sergio Roitman, who had a much tougher go of things against countryman Guillermo Coria. Roitman looked to be in control after rolling through the opening set, taking it six games to two, however his lead would be short-lived. The diminutive Coria showed why he has reached number one in the world, attacking Roitman from every point of the court, blanking the two-seed to level the match. However, Coria was unable to keep up his superb form in the final set, as Roitman once again broke his opponent's serve twice to set up a dream clay-court final between two of the world's elite.
The doubles draw saw both semifinals go the distance, even though one lasted over an hour longer than the other. The first pitted earlier combatants, Chela and Johansson against Nicolas Mahut and Flavio Saretta. The two singles semifinalists showed that fatigue was not a factor in the opening set, taking it 6-0, behind seven Pim-Pim aces. The French/Brazilian pair roared back however, erasing three break points in their first service game of the set, and eventually taking the second 6-3. From there on, the second seeds looked lathargic, as Chela's mind was clearly focused on tomorrow's singles dual, while Johansson seemed to be longing for the hard courts of America. The final score read 0-6 6-3 6-0, after which the winning pair were ecstatic, claiming they would save their celebrating, however, until after tomorrow's final, assuming they are victorious. Standing in their way are improbable finalists, Ilia Bozoljac and Robin Haase, a first-time pair who have proven that grit and determination do outweigh skill, at least this week. The duo dropped a tight opening set to four seeds, Alex Bogdanovic and Ollie Rochus, 7-3 in a tiebreak, but fought back to level the affair at a set apiece, breaking Bogdanovic at love in the final game of the set to take it 7-5. The third was truly a back and forth affair as both teams traded both breaks and incredible shots until at four games all, the newcomer Bozoljac ripped a backhand return past the Belgian net man to convert the break, and then served out the match in the next game, winning 6-7(3) 7-5 6-4. Thus setting up an all unseeded final, to contrast with the match that will follow, the singles final between the number one and number two seeds.
That will do it for today, but I hope to see everyone back in attendance for the final day of this riveting tournament. Play begins at 12pm local time with the doubles final, followed at 3pm by the singles. Goodnight.
Today's day of quarterfinal play was full of incerdible, back and forth matches.
Let us begin with the biggest buzz of the day, for once it is actually a doubles match. Today's spectators were witnesses to what experts are already calling the biggest upset in FMTA history. Year-long number one team Guillermo Coria and Andrei Pavel were defeated in one of the more dramatic encounters this reporter has ever witnessed. Who was the team that pulled off what few others could you ask? None other than FMTA newcomer Ilia Bozoljac and his partner, the steady Dutchman, Robin Haase. The match began as many on the doubles side do, 3 straight holds of serve by each team. However, with Coria serving at 3-4, Haase swatted a leaping backhand volley past the approaching Argentine to capture the break after four previous failed attempts and would himself serve out the set in the next game. The tables were turned in favor of the favorites in the second set, as the world number ones seemed to gain firm control, easily taking the set 6-0. Shockingly however, Coria was again broken to open the final set, perhaps suffering from an ailing shoulder as reported in his press conference, to give the Dutch/Serb pair a lead they would not relinquish until the upset bid was complete. The fledgling pair were clearly ecstatic with their victory, but claimed they would come down from their high in time to compete tomorrow.
On the other side of things, the singles draw saw no upsets in terms of seeding, but that does not mean each match was not full of energy and excitment. Both the one and two seeds, Argentines Juan Ignacio Chela and Sergio Roitman were pushed to the brink by their unseeded opponents. Roitman, who was broken 4 times in the match, was able to blank Andrei Pavel in the final set tiebreak 7-0 to advance, however, Chela was pushed even further by Wimbledon champion Nicolas Mahut, barely scraping through the deciding breaker in dramatic fashion, 8-6, in a match that featured grass court-like serving(each player was broken only once on the only break point they faced in the match) and broke the three-hour time mark. Roitman moves on to face the third Aregntine in the semifinals, third seeded Coria, who moved through in three sets over Frenchman Mathieu Montcourt, prior to his shocking doubles defeat, while Chela will face his long-time doubles partner, Swede Joachim Johansson, who is 2-0 lifetime versus Chela on the singles court. Johansson advanced 6-4 7-5 over Ollie Rochus, after dropping the first set 6-2.
In other doubles action, the aforementioned team of Chela and Johansson scraped through to the semis over Fabio Fobnini and Borja Malo, 7-6(3) in the third set tiebreak, Chela's second final set breaker of the day, leaving some to question his fitness for tomorrow's quick turnaround. However, the veteran pair joked that after the taxing day of play today, they may be forced to play two back doubles and continually lob their opponents, which was then followed by a staredown as the two went their separate ways to prepare for their semifinal tomorrow at 12 pm. Wrapping up the day of play, fourth seeded team Alex Bogdanovic and Ollie Rochus continued their solid playing, defeating the formidable Argentine team of Guillermo Canas and Sergio Roitman 7-5 in the third set, while Nicolas Mahut and Flavio Saretta defeted the third seeded team of Jurgen Melzer and Mathieu Montcourt, in three sets after dropping the first 6-0.
That wraps up this busy day of quarterfinal play from beautiful Gstaad. I hope to see everyone in attendance tomorrow for more great matchups.