The top seed and Antalaya Open tournament favourite, Matteo Berrettini’s hopes of starting the season with the first hardcourt title of his career, were dashed by Alexander Bublik who got the better of him in their quarter-final clash.
Getting to a semi-final in the first week of the season and beating a couple of top players. Matteo is a top player. It’s a great start Alexander Bublik
The Kazakhstani beat the Italian top ten-player, 7-6(6) 6-4 after one hour and 31-minutes for one of the best wins of his career to reach the last four.
“Getting to a semi-final in the first week of the season and beating a couple of top players. Matteo is a top player. It’s a great start”, said an elated Bublik.
But as the score might suggest, he didn’t have it all his own way in the opening set as he trailed 3-5 before levelling and forcing a tie-break where again, he trailed 1-3 before claiming it on his third set point.
Berrettini fought back in the second but it was Bublik who gained control of the match when he broke for 3-2 and then held off two break points in what proved to be the Italian’s last attempt to get back into the match.
From that point Bublik dropped just one point in his next two service games to record the upset of the day and set up a semi-final clash with Frenchman Jeremy Chardy who held off a strong challenge from the powerful German, Jan-Lennard Struff 4-6 6-2 7-6(8).
The two players exchanged several breaks of serve during the first two sets as they vied for the advantage but it wasn’t until the decider that the pendulum swung Chardy’s way as he pulled ahead 4-1.
Struff struck back in the seventh game to level and then failed to convert two match points in the final tie-break which eventually fell Chardy’s way to secure for himself, his first appearance in a semi-final since Brisbane 2019.
“Jan-Lennard had two match points at the end, so it was difficult, but I am happy to be in the semi-finals,” Chardy, who had also battled through a three setter the day before, said.
Meanwhile in the bottom half, the new title favourite, David Goffin, the second seed, required just 63-minutes to dispatch Stefano Travaglia 6-3 6-2 to progress into the last four.
Goffin stamped his authority on the match with a double break to establish a 5-1 lead in the opening set. The Italian did pull back one break in the seventh but it didn’t prevent the Belgian from claiming the set in the next game.
A very similar scenario was played out in the second but there was no stopping Goffin who has found a new level of confidence with his new coach Germain Gigounon.
“I got off to a good start in both sets and I felt that I was aggressive on my forehand and solid on return. I am happy to be in the semi-finals, as I served well and felt physically better. We have worked on small details. My technique is okay, but it’s been about motivation and going back to basics.
“I feel I have a solid game, but I have worked on moving better, taking the ball earlier and work on my serve. I need to get back to what I used to do. The past few months of last season, I had good and bad matches. I need consistency and Germain is a good friend, so I am happy with my start this year,” Goffin, a former world No.7, said.
His reward is a showdown with fourth seed Alex de Minaur, the 21-year-old Australian, who has yet to drop a set at the event as he continued his run with an emphatic 6-2 6-4 victory over the world No.40, Georgia’s Nikoloz Basilashvili.
De Minaur should give Goffin a good match as he holds the psychological advantage of having defeated the Belgian in their only previous meeting – the 2019 Davis Cup Final.