Haas, Tursunov in Countrywide Final

July 29, 2006 08:10 PM

Tommy Haas celebrates match point against Dominik Hrbaty Saturday at the Countrywide Classic.
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Dmitry Tursunov upset Fernando Gonzalez to move into his first ATP Tour championship match, and 2004 champion Tommy Haas beat Dominik Hrbaty in other semifinal Saturday in the Countrywide Classic.

The eighth-seeded Tursunov, a 23-year-old Russian who has lived in California since he was 12, beat Gonzalez 6-4, 6-2 in their night match. The Chilean was the No. 3 seed and the highest remaining in the tournament.

Haas, going for his third title of the year, broke Hrbaty's serve in the 11th game of the second set to take a 6-5 lead, then served out to wrap up a 6-2, 7-5 victory in their afternoon semifinal.

Tursunov has been climbing the ATP rankings and was at a career-high No. 31 coming into the Los Angeles tournament.

He was able mostly to neutralize Gonzalez's powerful forehand, chasing down and returning many of the Chilean's shots.

Gonzalez, ranked No. 17, grew more frustrated as he fell behind in the second set, slammed his racket to the court and shattered it after double-faulting to fall behind 4-2.

Haas' win was the third in six semifinals for the 28-year-old German this year. His earlier victories came in February at Delray Beach, Fla., and Memphis, Tenn.

He is the tournament's sixth seed and No. 21 in the ATP rankings. Hrbaty, from Slovakia, was one notch below Haas in both the event's seeding and the world rankings.

Haas served nine aces, seven in the second set, and kept Hrbaty on the run by hitting accurate groundstrokes to the corners.

"I missed a couple of chances to break him early on in the second set, which frustrates you when you know you can maybe close the door," Haas said. "But then I really lifted up my game at 5-all to break him and played a couple of great points. I served good throughout the whole match."

The victory was Haas' seventh in 11 career matches against Hrbaty, but the Slovak had won the three most recent meetings.

"Today was a good opportunity to avenge myself for the last three losses, and that was on my mind," Haas said. "I told him right after the match, `Finally I got you again.' So it's all good."

Hrbaty said Haas' game was solid.

"Tommy played really well. He held his serve easy, and he got confidence with his baseline strokes," said Hrbaty, also 28. "He changed his tactics from the last couple of matches we've played a little bit. He was getting good angles."

Haas, a native of Hamburg who lives in Bradenton, Fla., has won nine titles, but no Grand Slams.

"The way I'm playing right now, if I can maintain that and get into even better shape and get a lot of confidence, I think I'm going to be tough to beat no matter who I play," he said. "And I think that's really a good way for me to go into the U.S. Open, which I really enjoy playing as well. We just have to see.

"I'd just like to give myself the best possible chance to do well and see if I can make my dream come true. If you're 28 or 31, I don't think you think about the age too much as long as you feel healthy and happy to be out there and competing."

Hrbaty, who also lost in last year's Los Angeles semifinals, to Gilles Muller, hasn't made it to a final since 2004.

 

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