The biggest tournament this week is the ATP Rio 2015 draw, a tournament that is part of the 500 series on tour. The tournament’s quarterfinals are now complete and three of the four top seeds advanced to the tournament’s semifinals.
All the results from Friday are below and interestingly enough, each final went three sets:
(1) Rafael Nadal d. (6) Pablo Cuevas 4-6, 7-5, 6-0
(4) Fabio Fognini d. Federico Delbonis 6-4, 6-7, 7-6
Andreas Haider-Maurer d. Joao Souza 7-6, 1-6, 6-4
(2) David Ferrer d. Juan Monaco 6-3, 4-6, 6-2
Ferrer, who faced a test in veteran Juan Monaco on Friday, now has what should be a routine match to make the championship. Haider-Maurer, a 27-year old Austrian, is somewhat of an obscure player on tour and, to date, he has only made one singles final in his career (Vienna 2010). Haider-Maurer is alive in a quarter of the draw where Tommy Robredo was the top seed.
Ferrer, following his win in the quarterfinal round, had the following comments regarding his match and the next one coming up:
“(Monaco) played very aggressive… I tried to be focused on every point and I took my chances,” said the Spaniard. “I will try my best to be in the final.”
Haider-Maurer, in defeating Souza, eliminated the only Brazilian left in the Rio draw. The Austrian referenced the difficulty he persevered through in playing the crowd favorite:
“The crowd was tough, but I had a good feeling on the center court,” said Haider-Maurer. “It was a pleasure to play in front of this crowd. It was a tough match, up and down, but I’m very happy that I won.”
Haider-Maurer also reflected on his past matches against Ferrer ahead of Saturday’s semifinals:
“I can enjoy the match against him,” the Austrian said. “I played him two times already and in both, I had no chance against him. But I want to go on the court and enjoy this match. I think I have a chance if I play my game.”
Rafael Nadal‘s victory over Cuevas featured two hard fought sets and then a very lopsided final set. But Cuevas, it should be pointed out, did win a clay court event just last week. He therefore entered the quarterfinal round having played a ton of recent tennis. Perhaps he may have played a more competitive final set against Nadal if the Uruguayan had entered this week’s event better rested.
The semifinals now set up with Nadal vs. Fognini in the top half of the draw. In the bottom half, Haider-Maurer will face Ferrer. Nadal, currently ranked third in the world, is a perfect 4-0 against Fognini. Ferrer, perhaps the player in the draw with the best chance of stopping the World No. 3, does have six victories over Nadal. However the current World No. 9 has also suffered twenty-two defeats to the more talented Spaniard over the years. By all measures, the title in Rio appears to be Nadal’s to lose.
ATP Rio, which will see its final played on Sunday, offers 500 ranking points to the tournament champion, making it a moderately important tournament on tour.