x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Tennis round-up: Del Potro and Azarenka on winning run

Argentine to meet Isner in Washinton Open final while Australian Open champion will face Stosur in California summit-clash.

Juan Martin Del Potro is a former US Open champion. Matthew Stockman / Getty Images / AFP
Juan Martin Del Potro is a former US Open champion. Matthew Stockman / Getty Images / AFP

Top seed Juan Martin Del Potro and US eighth seed John Isner advanced to the final of the ATP and WTA Washington Open with rain-interrupted triumphs on Saturday.

Seventh-ranked Del Potro, the 2009 US Open champion from Argentina, defeated German third seed Tommy Haas 7-6, 6-3 while Isner blasted 29 aces in a 6-7, 6-3, 6-4 victory over Russia's Dmitry Tursunov.

Del Potro, the 2008 and 2009 Washington winner, was down 1-4 when rain halted the first set for more than three hours, but won the next four games once play resumed.

"The rain delay helped me play much better in the second part of the match," Del Potro said. "I came back with too much power on my forehand. It was too much for Tommy."

Del Potro saved a set point with a second-serve ace in the 12th game and took the tie-breaker when Haas hit a backhand long.

"He went for it. There's nothing you can do," Haas said of the second-serve ace.

"The rain delay was annoying. Bothered me a lot. Momentum was on my side. [The first set] would have been mine."

Haas netted a backhand to surrender a break in the eighth game of the second set and Del Potro held for the victory, stretching his win streak to 13 matches at the $1.76 million hardcourt event, having not played in the US capital since his title run four years ago.

"It's amazing after four years to return to the final," Del Potro said.

Haas fell to 0-5 against Del Potro and has never taken a set from the South American star.

Meanwhile, top seed Victoria Azarenka of Belarus advanced to the final of the US$795,000 (Dh2.9 million) WTA Southern California Open on Saturday, where she will face the fifth-seeded Australian Samantha Stosur.

Azarenka, just three days past her 24th birthday, defeated seventh-seeded Serbian Ana Ivanovic 6-0, 4-6, 6-3.

Stosur battled back from a 0-4 first-set deficit en route to a 7-6, 6-3 victory over France's Virginie Razzano.

Azarenka, the two-time defending Australian Open champion, showed no sign of the right knee injury that forced her out of Wimbledon after the first round.

Ivanovic, like Azarenka a former world No 1, rallied after failing to win a game in the first set. But Azarenka gained a pivotal break at 2-2 in the third and went on to secure her third straight victory over the Serbian.

"It was an interesting match," Azarenka said. "The first set, the score definitely doesn't tell the whole story because there was a lot of close games. In the second set I missed couple easy shots and she was right there to take those opportunities. I thought I let her into the match.

"But she came up with great stuff. I have to give her credit. She started serving well, going for her shots. But when I analyze my match, I analyze about my game, not what my opponent did. The note that I am going to take from that is I have to keep going the same way that I was playing in the first set - taking my opportunities, going for my shots, making some moves, taking the ball forward. I'm just happy with the end result, that I was able to overcome some things and still find the way to win. That's the most important."

Azarenka will be seeking a 17th career title, and third of the season, when she takes on Stosur, the 2011 US Open winner.

Stosur, meanwhile, has reached her first final of the season, and will be vying for her first title since her US Open triumph. History is not on her side. She has never beaten Azarenka in eight career meetings.

Razzano, who had needed three hours and 35 minutes to get past third-seeded Petra Kvitova on Friday, took a break and left the court after dropping the first-set tiebreaker to Stosur.

However, she could npot find the spark she needed, and once Stosur had broken in the third game of the second set the Australian cruised home.


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