• Monfils, Lopez roll into SA Open semifinals

    2/5/10 7:32 PM | Ricky Dimon
    Monfils, Lopez roll into SA Open semifinals Gael Monfils storms into the Johannesburg semifinals with a straight-set win over Yen-Hsun Lu on Friday. Monfils will face Feliciano Lopez, who dismissed fellow seed Rajeev Ram.

    Looking to become the second Frenchman to win the title in the two-year history of the SA Tennis Open, Gael Monfils thrashed Yen-Hsun Lu 6-1, 6-4 in a 56-minute quarterfinal on Friday night. One year after Jo-Wilfried Tsonga lifted the winner's trophy in Johannesburg, Monfils has made his way to the semifinals without dropping a set.

    The tournament's top seed never let Lu come close on Friday. Monfils broke serve in the second game of the match and raced to a 3-0 lead before cruising through the opening frame of play. He added another break at 4-1 and promptly served out the set with ease.

    Lu showed signs of a recovery early in the second, but he missed two break chances at 2-1 and surrendered his own serve one game later. The world No. 125 out of Chinese Taipei won 11 of 13 first-serve points in set two, but he won less than half of his second-serve points. Monfils closed out the proceedings with ease at 5-4, striking a service winner on his second match point. The world No. 13 wrapped up his effort with four aces and two double-faults while saving all four of the break points he faced.

    Next up for Monfils is No. 3 seed Feliciano Lopez, who took out fifth-seeded Rajeev Ram 7-6(2), 6-3. Lopez saved all seven of the break points he faced to get the victory over Ram in one hour and 35 minutes.

    Both players served well in the opening set and each man fought off two break points en route to a tiebreaker. Lopez struck seven aces against one double-fault and Ram fired nine aces while double-faulting once during the first frame of play, but it was all Lopez in the tiebreaker. The 39th-ranked Spaniard dropped only two points in the decider to take a one-set advantage.

    Lopez just barely managed to maintain his momentum early in the second. He saved two break points in his first service game and one more in his second effort on serve. After squandering those chances, Ram dropped his own serve midway through the set and could never recover. The 83rd-ranked American had two more break chances with his opponent serving for the match at 5-3, but Lopez came up with aces at 15-40 and 30-40 and clinched the victory two points later.

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