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Stepanek And Monfils To Meet In Legg Mason Final

PTI 14 Aug 2011, 9:06:17 IST

Washington, August 7:  Top-seeded Gael Monfils of France beat No. 11 John Isner 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (6) in a rain-delayed match Saturday to advance to the final of the Legg Mason Tennis Classic.

Monfils will meet Radek Stepanek on Sunday after the Czech defeated American Donald Young 6-3, 6-3.

Monfils, ranked seventh in the world, won the tiebreaker when the lanky Isner hit a forehand into the net.

“It was a bit tough in the head,” Monfils said.

Isner staved off two match points in the 10th game. On the second, Monfils felt Isner's serve was wide, but the replay machine failed to operate, and the call stood.

“I don't think I played a bad tiebreaker,” Isner said. “I just cracked a little bit at 7-6.”

The start of the match was delayed nearly two hours. There were two lengthy rain delays and the match finally ended at 1:15 a.m. local time.

The 32-year-old Stepanek convincingly beat the 22-year-old Young.

In the seven years he's been a professional, Young has been known as a promising player on the tour—and this week the American won four straight matches for the first time in his career. Stepanek made sure there wasn't a fifth.

“He's a veteran -- 10 years my senior,” Young said.

“I couldn't get set into the way I wanted to play. It wasn't that I was nervous, but more so he took me out of my game,” Young said.

Stepanek broke Young in the fifth and ninth games of the first set—and in the second game of the second set.
Stepanek won the second set's first nine points and held service in the third game when he staved off Young's only two break points of the match.

The left-hander entered this hard-court tuneup for the U.S. Open ranked 128th and with a 19-53 career record as a professional.

His run this week assures Young of returning to the top 100 in Monday's ATP rankings. He still must qualify for the U.S. Open's main draw.

“I won four matches. I beat good players consistently for a week,” Young said.

After Stepanek won, he showed some emotion—punching the air—and hitting a tennis ball into the upper deck of the stadium.
The oldest player ranked in the top 100, Stepanek is seeking his fifth title—his first since winning two in 2009.

On Friday, the former top-10 player beat Fernando Verdasco of Spain and on Saturday, came close to losing his serve just once—in the 14-point third game—which went to deuce four times.

“I had control of the match in my hands,” Stepanek said. If he wins Sunday's final, he could near the top 30. “I'm getting my ranking higher—getting closer to getting seeded at the U.S. Open,” Stepanek said. AP