Mannarino escapes at Astana Open but no such quarterfinal luck for Thiem, Griekspoor

01.10.2023    Views: 402
Source: KTF press-service

Ravi Ubha

Adrian Mannarino achieved a first last year at the Astana Open, making a maiden tour-level doubles final at the age of 34.

The Frenchman likely did something else for the first time in his career during the quarterfinals of the Astana Open on Sunday — save 11 set points.

They came in the second set of his 6-1, 7-6 (8) win over Austrian qualifier and fellow lefty Jurij Rodionov.

«I was down and playing so bad,» said the sixth seed. «The level was miserable but I’m happy to get through and maybe I get another chance tomorrow.»

Getting through is something he has done regularly on the indoor hard courts of the National Tennis Center.

In his three visits, the world No. 34 has reached at least the quarterfinals. He went deeper in 2020 — all the way to the final.

His 35 match wins in 2023 are a personal best in a season and Mannarino could find himself back in the top 30 when the new ATP rankings are released.

Rodionov — who has recorded several important victories in Kazakhstan over the years — could still eclipse his career-best ranking of 100th despite the loss.

But he is bound to be mulling those set points.

Two came with Mannarino serving at 4-5, five were there for the taking at 5-6 and four more arrived in the tiebreak at 6-2.

On the two set points on his own serve, Mannarino clubbed a forehand winner and Rodionov sent a forehand into the net.

Mannarino produced unreturnable serves on other occasions and in two long exchanges on the set points, Rodionov attempted to hit forehand winners down the line but erred.

Rodionov had defeated Mannarino in 2019 for a first top 50 win and owned a 9-1 record in his last 10 matches against left-handers.

Ofner rallies against Thiem

Three Austrians landed in the quarterfinals for the first time in the Open Era at an ATP event and one was

guaranteed to progress to the last four since Dominic Thiem and Sebastian Ofner went head-to-head.

Ofner’s best season got even better as he edged his «good friend» and Grand Slam winner, 5-7, 6-4, 6-2.

He broke for the first time for 4-3 in the second set, helped by a sizzling cross-court forehand passing shot.

Three straight games from 1-1 shaped the decider. Thiem saved a break point for 2-1, Ofner hung on for 2-2, then broke for 3-2 and didn’t flinch.

«It’s never easy to play a good friend,» said Ofner. «I’ve known Dominic for a long time. We know each other very well and how (each other) plays.»

The 27-year-old recorded his first win in four tries against Thiem and is poised to break inside the top 50 in the rankings for the first time in his career.

Monday’s semifinal against Mannarino marks the second of his tour career — and first since Kitzbuhel on home soil in 2017.

«Feels very good. The last one was six years ago. So after (that), this season, it’s special,» he said.

Big servers to face off

Sebastian Korda made it back-to-back tour semifinals by beating top-seed Tallon Griekspoor 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 on center court.

The American fifth-seed struck 12 aces to lift his tally in three matches to 43 and was only broken once.

He seized the advantage in the third set by breaking for 4-2. Griekspoor began the game by committing two straight double faults and it ended with Korda flashing his all-court game.

An effective approach shot was followed up by a backhand volley that gave the Dutchman — the top seed at an ATP event for the first time — no chance.

Part of Korda’s post match routine was to enjoy some chocolate from Kazakhstan.

Korda meets 20-year-old wildcard Hamad Medjedovic in the semifinals after the Serb upset fourth-seed Jiri Lehecka 6-3, 6-4 for a spot in a second career ATP semifinal.

Watching Lehecka’s match against Laslo Djere — Medjedovic’s compatriot — in the Davis Cup earlier this month helped him and coach Viktor Troicki prepare a game plan.

«We've been able to study a little bit about him and his game and we made a good tactic,» said Medjedovic, who tallied a retirement win over Djere in the first round. «And we're happy I won.»

Medjedovic is the lone player remaining yet to lose a set. He hasn’t lost serve, either.

Another win and he will break the top 100, having begun the year just outside the top 250.

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