• Surprise quarterfinals set for St. Petersburg

    10/23/08 8:41 PM | Ricky Dimon
    Surprise quarterfinals set for St. Petersburg The bottom half of the draw is in shambles with Marat Safin, Mikhail Youzhny, and Nikolay Davydenko all out. That sets the stage for lesser-known players like Mischa Zverev and Andrey Golubev.

    Mischa Zverev vs. Andrey Golubev.

    So much for Marat Safin vs. Mikhail Youzhny. Instead it is Zverev vs. Golubev. Zverev eased past Florent Serra before upsetting Youzhny, while Golubev qualified and then dispatched Olivier Rochius before taking out Safin. Zverev's quarterfinal appearance is not too surprising, as the German is in fine form at the moment. He reached the semifinals in Moscow two weeks ago and his big game works well on indoor hard courts. Golubev, from Kazakhstan, is less accomplished and ranked 150th in the world having won just two matches at the ATP level this season prior to St. Petersburg. He must be playing with confidence, though, as he had to come through qualifying just to get into the main draw. An ATP quarterfinal could be too much for Golubev, so Zverev in straight sets is the pick.
    Victor Hanescu vs. Michail Elgin

    Elgin, an unheralded Russian wildcard, had not won an ATP match all season before St. Petersburg and now he finds himself in the quarterfinals. All he had to do it was beat clay-courter Filippo Volandri in the first round, which he did 6-4, 6-4. The No. 145 player in the world then got a free pass when No. 2 seed Nikolay Davydenko pulled out with a wrist injury. Hanescu, however, is going to make Elgin work. The 6'6'' Romanian has not enjoyed great year, but he is coming on late in the season. He upset Dmitry Tursunov in Madrid and was one set away from stunning Novak Djokovic before retiring in the third set. So far this week he has taken out Evgeny Korolev and Mikhail Kukushkin, both in straight sets. Another straight-setter for Hanescu should be in the cards.

    (3) Fernando Verdasco vs. Rainer Schuettler

    Like the Andy Murray vs. Janko Tipsarevic quarterfinal, this one is not too surprising. Even though Schuettler is 32 years old, he is still going strong. The German stormed out of nowhere to reach the Wimbledon semifinals, and since then he has reached the semifinals in Beijing, the quarterfinals in Tokyo, and the quarterfinals in Stockholm. In St. Petersburg Schuettler dispatched Moscow champion Igor Kunitsyn in the first round and then sent home Dominik Hrbaty. Verdasco should be a much tougher opponent. The Spaniard's form has tailed off recently, but he is still No. 16 in the world rankings and 15th in the 2008 race. Verdasco recovered from a disastrous first set in round one to get past Teimuraz Gabashvili 1-6, 6-4, 6-3 before scoring a routine 6-1, 6-3 win over Karlis Lejnieks. Look for an upset on Thursday, however, as Schuettler's aggressive style and net prowess could be too much on indoor hard courts.

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