Saturday, September 03, 2005

Ginepri Shines In Five Against Haas

With a chance to make his first ever Round of 16 at Flushing Meadows, American Robby Ginepri outlasted German Tommy Haas (29) in five hard fought sets 7-5, 6-7 (3), 6-4, 2-6, 6-3. The second night match at Arthur Ashe Stadium lasted three and a half hours and was one of the best of the tournament.

Both players traded powerful groundstrokes in lengthy rallies, running down plenty of balls and leaving everything on the court. It made for entertaining tennis, which had fans on their feet.

In the opening set, each traded early breaks as they tried to gain an edge in play. But as the set was closing, Ginepri came up with the goods in the 11th game to break Haas for a second time. Two points from a 6-5 lead, he ripped a forehand winner inside the line to setup break points and then flicked a backhand return right on the line for the break. He closed out the set with another backhand winner. For the night, he finished with 65 winners to his opponent's 55.

The second set took 57 minutes to play and saw both players again trade early breaks and then hold their serves until a pivotal tiebreaker. With Haas desperate to get back in the match, he was the aggressor forcing errors from Ginepri to claim the tiebreak.

With the match squared, the third set was again a seesaw battle with both trying to outslug the other from the baseline. With neither budging, Ginepri held for a 5-4 lead and then seized the momentum breaking Haas at love to take a two sets to one lead.

But the momentum was shortlived when a tired Ginepri was broken twice by a determined Haas in a lopsided fourth set that took just 27 minutes.

With the crowd amped up for a final set, Ginepri summoned whatever energy he had left to stay with Haas. The quality of tennis in the set was very high with both players hustling down balls to keep rallies alive and ripping shots until either someone blinked or one took control and ended a point with a winner. It was the kind of match that was easy to get into with both saving their best for last. Both players faced break chances against early on but they fought them off.

In the eighth game with Ginepri up 4-3, Haas finally caved. After a long point which Haas won with a lethal forehand to get within two points of leveling the match, he was still gased when he hit his seventh double fault. After he made two errors in a row, the match was in Ginepri's hands. Having never beaten Haas in three previous tries, he fired three unreturnable serves to get to match point. At 40-30, when a Haas backhand sailed long, Ginepri had finally advanced, improving to 2-1 in five set matches.

Ironically, not much separated the two. Ginepri made 56 unforced errors to Haas' 59. The deciding break of serve by Ginepri made him six of 13 while Haas was five of 14. To put in perspective how close this match was, Ginepri won one more point (157-156). If there was one noticeable difference, he outaced Haas 20-9.

"I don't know how I won," Ginepri said afterwards. "I wouldn't have without the support of these fans."

He'll next play 13th seed Richard Gasquet Monday for a chance to make his first ever slam quarterfinal. In the other late third round match, 19th seed Tommy Robredo triumphed over Sebastien Grosjean in four sets 6-4, 7-5, 6-7 (3), 7-6 (3). He'll face American James Blake next in the Round of 16.


Sunday is Day Seven and will feature a Round of 16 sister showdown between Serena and Venus Williams. Lleyton Hewitt will also square off against American Taylor Dent. One match to keep an eye on is women's top seed Maria Sharapova battling Sania Mirza. Mirza is the first ever Indian woman to make it this far in a slam.

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