The ATP and WTA grass-court tournaments at Stuttgart, s-Hertogenbosch and Nottingham are approaching climax with semi-final line-up becoming crystal clear. Former world no.1 Rafael Nadal, who is the highest-ranked men’s player in these tournaments, had a hard time against Australia’s Bernard Tomic before cruising through to the semi-final in three sets. He will play France’s Gael Monfils for the place in the final of the Mercedes’ Cup. Poland’s Agnieszka Radwanska also made it to Final-Four at the inaugural Aegon Open at Nottingham. At Topshelf Open in the Netherlands, Robin Haase moved one step closer to clinching victory on home soil. He now faces Frenchman Nicolas Mahut for a place in the final. Among the women competitors at Topshelf Open, local hope Kiki Bertens reached the semi-final with an upset victory over 2014 champion Coco Vandeweghe. Joining Bertens in the semi-final are; Jelena Jankovic, Belinda Bencic and Camila Giorgi.
At Stuttgart, no.1 seed Rafael Nadal faced heavy problems against upcoming Australian Bernard Tomic. The former world no.1 Spaniard fought for 2 hours and 21 minutes to beat the 22-year old Australian. After taking the first set at 6-4, Nadal broke early and took a 4-2 lead. But the tenacious Aussie fought back, saved a match point and won the second set on tiebreak. In the third set, Nadal saved two break points in seventh game before winning on his second match-point in the ninth game. Nadal now faces Frenchman Monfils, who had defeated local hope Philippe Kohlschreiber 7-5, 3-6, 6-3 on Friday. In the other semi-final at Stuttgart, Viktor Troicki will take on Croatia’s Marin Cilic. Troicki had a tough time against Australia’s Sam Groth in the first set before winning 7-6, 6-1. Cilic was also pushed to the brink of defeat by German veteran Mischa Zverev but survived to win at 4-6, 7-6, 7-6.
At the Topshelf Open, local hope Robin Haase survived a 24-ace onslaught from Croatia’s Ivo Karlovic before clinching a semi-final berth with a 6-7, 6-4, 7-6 victory. This is the first time that Haase has entered the semi-final in his eight attempts at Topshelf Open and for a place in the final; he will have to beat Frenchman Nicolas Mahut on Saturday. Mahut had a rather easy passage with a 6-1, 6-3 triumph over compatriot Adrian Mannarino. In the other semi-final, Gilles Muller of Luxembourg will play Belgium’s David Goffin. While Muller scored a 7-6, 6-1 win over Romania’s Marius Copil; Goffin needed a tiebreak to force a decider before beating Ukrainian Illya Marchenko 4-6, 7-6, 6-2.
Among women competitors at Topshelf, a pair of young women stole the limelight. Switzerland’s no.4 seed Belinda Bencic saved three match points against Kristina Mladenovic before outlasting the Frenchwoman 7-6, 6-7, 7-5 in 2 hours and 51 minutes. Italy’s Camila Giorgi also had three match points against her before she could defeat Kazakh Yaroslava Shvedova 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 in a 2½ hour thriller. For the final spot, Giorgi will take on local heroine Kiki Bertens, who disposed of defending champion Coco Vandeweghe 6-4, 6-1. Bencic will play against Serbia’s Jelena Jankovic, who beat Germany’s Annika Beck 6-4, 6-1.
At the Aegon Open in Nottingham, Agnieszka Radwanska beat USA’s Lauren Davis 6-2, 6-2 to make it to the semi-final, where she will face Romania’s Monica Niculescu. The Romanian defeated British hope Johanna Konta 6-2, 2-6, 6-2 for the semi-final entry.
In the other quarterfinal, Alison Riske of USA won against Belgium’s Yanina Wickmayer, who retired in the second set with Riske leading 6-2, 2-0. The last quarterfinal of the day between Croatia’s Ana Konjhu and USA’s Sachia Vickery was postponed to Saturday because of rain.