SF: Joachim Johansson def. Olivier Rochus 61 76(5)
Top Swede Joachim Johansson moved through to his second ATP final today, overwhelmingly Belgium’s Olivier Rochus 6-1 7-6 (5) at the Next Generation Hardcourts in Adelaide.
The towering second seeded Johansson, who didn’t qualify for this event 12 months ago, is favoured to win the season opener at Memorial Drive after top seed Lleyton Hewitt was defeated by Taylor Dent last night 7-6(4) 6-3.
The key to Dent’s victory was his massive serve, as was the case today when Johansson beat the hide off the ball against the diminutive Rochus who, at 165 cm, is 30 cm smaller than Johansson.
"I got off to a good start, I kept going until the beginning of the second set and I lost concentration a little bit," he said.
Johansson completely dominated the first, 24 minute set, but hit a raft of unforced errors in the second set as Rochus broke him in the third game.
Johansson responded by breaking back immediately and the set continued on serve with Rochus’ confidence mounting by the game.
Rochus held the upperhand in the tiebreak, at one point leading 5-2 but Johansson’s serve – he hit 16 aces for the match – got him out of trouble.
A controversial line call set the tiebreak score at 5-5 after which Rochus dumped a forehand into the net. His racquet barely contacted the next (match) point and he sent up a floater, which Johansson put away.
"The beginning was very tough he was playing very good," said Rochus. "I was not feeling that good on the court but at the end I think I was playing better than him. I was stronger from the baseline. In the tiebreak, the only points he won were just aces. I had the feeling that if I’d won this tiebreaker, I had a chance to win. I was playing better and better."
Johansson plays the winner of the second semifinal between fifth seeded Dent of the USA and fourth seeded Juan Ignacio Chela of Argentina.
A semifinalist at the US Open last year, Johansson won his first ATP title at Memphis earlier in the year and was a quarterfinalist at seven other events.
"This tournament and Stockholm, apart from the Grand Slams, is like home for me. Jaslyn’s here (his girlfriend, Jaslyn Hewitt), and I’ve been here for a while, so I feel at home here and it’s very hard to get to the final here."
Twelve months ago he failed to qualify in Adelaide and was ranked 103 in the world. Now sitting at No.11, Johansson believes he can go one better than his US Open semifinal, which he lost to Hewitt after upsetting Andy Roddick in the quarterfinals.
"For the last eight tournaments I’ve got to the quarterfinal at least and it feels like I’ve been more consistent. I hope I can repeat what I did at the US Open in two week’s time."
but (3) Xavier Malisse/Olivier Rochus (BEL) d Agustin Calleri/Juan Ignacio (ARG) 6-4 6-4
COME ON OLI & MALLIE!!! WIN THE FINAL!!!