The trio of Milos Raonic, Nicolas Almagro and Juan Martin Del Potro are back playing in ATP tournament finals for the second straight Sunday this month.
The 21-year-old Raonic is arguably the second hottest player of the season, behind only Novak Djokovic. The big-serving Canadian returns to the Memphis final after winning his ninth straight match (and 19th consecutive set) beating Benjamin Becker 64, 64 in the semifinals.
“I feel like I’m not stalling at any point,” said Raonic who lost to Andy Roddick in the 2011 Memphis final. “I’m constantly getting better throughout the matches. That’s very encouraging. It’s something fun to build off of.”
Raonic has won 15 of 16 matches this season losing only to Lleyton Hewitt at the Australian Open. In the Sunday final he’ll meet Austrian Jurgen Melzer. The lefty Melzer stunned top seed and big server John Inser Friday, and today he followed up with a three set win over Radek Stepanek 64, 36, 63.
“I’ve played a great tournament thus far,” Melzer said. “Reaching a final is something special. I haven’t played a final since 2010.”
Also seeking a second straight title Sunday is Nicolas Almagro who will try to defend his Buenos Aires crown against countryman David Ferrer. Almagro edged Stanislas Wawrinka 64, 36, 75 today in the semifinals while Ferrer hammered David Nalbandian 61, 64.
Ferrer is seeking his 13th career ATP title, Almagro his 12th. Ferrer has won all eight career meetings with Almagro including three last season.
In Europe, Frenchman Michael Llodra will have the crowd on his side when he faces Argentine Del Potro in the Marseille final. Del Potro is back into a title match for the second straight week – he lost to Roger Federer in Rotterdam last Sunday – after an excellent 64, 67(9), 63 victory over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
“Beating Tsonga here in France in the way I played today,” said Del Potro, “I have many good things take away for the future. I’m close to winning the tournament, so I’ll be ready for a fight like today.”
Llodra was a 64, 76(10) winner over Janko Tipsarevic and lefty’s won 15 of his last 17 matches in Marseille. But he’s never beaten Del Potro in two previous tries including a three-set first round loss at Rotterdam almost two weeks ago.
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