Chennai Open singles wrap

By Anand Philar, IANS
Wednesday, January 5, 2011

CHENNAI - At 31, Bjorn Phau might not be entertaining thoughts of winning a Grand Slam, but yet, on his day, he can silence a few top guns, like he did Wednesday when he recovered from a first set loss to oust 24-year old fourth seed Richard Gasquet 1-6, 7-6 (5), 7-6 (4), en route to the singles quarter-finals of the Aircel ATP Chennai Open.

Phau, who made his ATP tour debut back in 1998 at this very tournament here, exhibited wonderful resilience, like that of his idol Michael Chang, the 1989 French Open champion, to pull off a merited win against the temperamental Frenchman Gasquet who even broke his racquet in frustration.

In contrast, top seed and World No.6 Tomas Berdych had few problems as he eased past the Ivan Dodig 6-2, 6-4, although he was kept on court for longer than expected, an hour and 27 minutes, to be precise.

Berdych next meets Slovakian Blaz Kavcic who beat Robert Kendrick (US) 6-2, 6-2 on an outside court.

Phau, born to a German mother and an Indonesian father, had Chang as his idol besides Andre Agassi and can boast of a victory against today’s icon Roger Federer in 1999, but never quite fulfilled the early promise.

Yet, on his sixth visit to Chennai Open, Phau, ranked 102 as against his best of 59 in 2006, raised his game to overcome Gasquet who belied his position of 30 in the ATP pecking order.

Gasquet, who was ranked No.7 in 2007 that he highlighted by reaching the Wimbledon semi-finals before losing to Federer, raced through the first set, but seemed to lose his composure even as Phau scripted a fairytale comeback.

Phau dug deep to blast a stream of winners while Gasquet turned error-prone. The German served better, especially in the two tie-breaks and that made the difference.

Earlier, Berdych overcame some resistance in the second set by the 88th ranked Croatian Dodig who otherwise was outplayed for much of the contest.

“No match is easy despite what the scores might indicate. You have to work hard to make it look easy,” said Berdych after the match.

The 25-year old Berdych, a Wimbledon finalist last year, took control of the match with a break in the first, third and fifth games of the opening set. The only hiccup for Berdych was that he dropped serve in the fourth, but it did not change the course of the set or, for that matter, the match itself.

“I made two or three mistakes in that game and lost it. Luckily, I had the advantage of two breaks and it helped,” Berdych said.

The results:

Singles (pre-quarterfinals): 1-Tomas Berdych (CZE) bt Ivan Dodig (CRO) 6-2, 6-4; Blaz Kavcic (SLO) bt Robert Kendrick (US) 6-2, 6-2; Bjorn Phau (GER) bt 4-Richard Gasquet (FRA) 1-6, 7-6 (5), 7-6 (4).

(Anand Philar can be contacted at

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