Roddick Reaches Beijing Semifinals

Posted on September 26, 2008

Welcome to day six of the China Open, a $524,000 ATP International Series hard-court event that was first contested in 1993. After the surprise exodus of three seeds and Tennis Masters Cup contenders on Friday, No. 2 Andy Roddick, No. 7 Rainer Schuettler, Dudi Sela and Bjorn Phau complete the semifinal line-up.

The first menís singles semifinal, which starts not before 2:00pm, on Stadium sees giant-killer Dudi Sela of Israel face seventh-seeded German Rainer Schuettler. It is their first meeting.

Sela, 23, has taken out Nicolas Devilder, World No. 5 David Ferrer and sixth seed Tommy Robredo en route to his maiden ATP semifinal appearance. The Tel Aviv resident is bidding to become the first Israeli to reach an ATP singles final since Harel Levy at ATP Masters Series Toronto in 2000 (l to Safin); the last Israeli to win an ATP title was Amos Mansdorf at 1993 Washington (d. Martin). It is the first time since the Sony Ericsson Open in Miami that the World No. 92 has won back-to-back ATP main draw matches. He has enjoyed much of his success this season on the ATP Challenger circuit, with a title victory in Vancouver and a semifinal appearance in Lexington. The 5í9íí right-hander, who is the top-ranked Israeli, has improved to 14-20 for the season on the strength of his results this week, which is already an improvement on his previous career-best of 10-5, recorded last year. He has a 3-1 record against German players.

Schuettler, 32, has overcome Ivan Navarro, Jean-Claude Scherrer and No. 4 seed Richard Gasquet to take his place in his second ATP semifinal of the season. The Korbach native had failed to win back-to-back matches on the ATP circuit before making a surprise run to his second Grand Slam semifinal at Wimbledon, where he defeated World No. 8 James Blake in the second round before ultimately falling to eventual champion Rafael Nadal. Since then he has made a quarterfinal exit at Kitzbuhel (l. to Melzer). The World No. 35 is bidding to reach his 13th ATP final (4-8 record; 3-6 on hard court) and his first since 2004 Masters Series Monte-Carlo (l. to Coria). The 2003 Australian Open finalist (l. to Agassi) captured his maiden ATP title at 1999 Doha (d. Henman) and won his most recent trophies at Lyon (d. Clement) and Tokyo (d. Grosjean) in 2003. The right-hander is making his fifth appearance in Beijing and has a 6-1 record against Israeli opponents.

In the second menís singles semifinal, starting not before 7:00pm on Stadium, unseeded German Bjorn Phau challenges second-seeded American Andy Roddick. Roddick won their one previous meeting at the 2006 San Jose quarterfinals in straight sets.

Phau, 28, had not won a match all season coming into Beijing and has defeated Hyun-Woo Nam, eighth-seeded American Sam Querrey and 11th-ranked defending champion Fernando Gonzalez this week to improve to a 3-2 match record. The win over World No. 39 Querrey represented his first victory over a Top 40-ranked player since February 2006 at Dubai (d. No. 9 Andre Agassi in 2nd Rd.). World No. 137 Phau, who lost in the second round here last year, is through to his first ATP semifinal since April 2006 at Casablanca (l. to Massu). He is bidding to reach his first ATP singles final. The right-hander has enjoyed strong results on the ATP Challenger circuit this season, reaching the finals at Cremona, Italy and Poznan, Poland and making a further three semifinals. He has a 1-9 lifetime record against Top 10 players, his lone victory coming against No. 9 Agassi at 2006 Dubai.

Roddick, 26, is through to his seventh ATP semifinal of the season on his debut in Beijing. The Austin resident stands at 39-13 for the season, highlighted by winning his 24th and 25th ATP titles at San Jose (d. Stepanek) and Dubai (d. F. Lopez), reaching the final at Los Angeles (l. to del Potro) and making semifinal exits at the Sony Ericsson Open in Miami (d. Federer, l. to Davydenko), Masters Series Rome (ret. vs. Wawrinka) and Queen's Club (l. to Nadal). He has a 25-14 record in ATP singles finals, 10 of his titles have come on hard courts, including both titles this season. The right-hander, who trailed David Ferrer by eight points in the ATP 2008 Race to Shanghai at the start of the week, is attempting to clinch his place at the circuit finale for a fifth time. He has a 2-2 record against German players this season. (ATP Digital Services)