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Santoro And Ivanisevic Set Clash In Monterrey Final

Rusedski© Abierto GNP SegurosGreg Rusedski finished off a busy Saturday with a victory over wild card Luis Enrique Herrera.

Due to Thursday’s rain, fans in Monterrey got to watch plenty of exciting ATP Champions Tour tennis on Saturday, with four Fast4 matches at the Abierto GNP Seguros. The outcomes resulted in what should be a thrilling championship clash between Fabrice Santoro and Goran Ivanisevic on Sunday.

Santoro followed up his victory on Friday night with 4-2, 5-3 win over local wild card Luis Enrique Herrera in a tightly-contested 52 minutes. 

“It was fun. It was a bit quicker than yesterday, but I think the crowd enjoyed it,” said Santoro, who enjoyed the challenge of the shortened format. “It’s a bit different when you play with no ads, especially, but it was a lot of fun...when you are on serve you have to be very careful because of the no ads, so that is the main danger.”

The Frenchman used his touch and guile throughout the match. And while Herrera put forth an excellent effort, breaking to gain the lead in the second set, Santoro would not be denied, and managed to break twice more to eventually close out the match in straight sets.

Ivanisevic did not face as stiff of a challenge, cruising past former World No. 1 Thomas Muster, 4-1, 4-1 in 24 minutes. 

The big-serving Croatian dropped just three points on his serve in the match, putting all of the pressure on the Austrian to hold. But in 29-degree heat, Muster was unable to hold off the former Wimbledon champion.

Perhaps the biggest contributing factor to the scoreline was that Muster had already played on Saturday, a solid 4-2, 4-2 victory over another local wild card, Leonardo Lavalle.

“It was a pretty good match,” said Muster, who spent some time practising with an Austrian player competing in the ATP Challenger Tour event going on simultaneously. “I was feeling the ball well and timing it well.”

Muster knew after his win that coming back out to play a fresh Ivanisevic was not going to be an easy task to conquer.

“Probably doesn’t suit me as well,” Muster said. “Especially playing against someone like Goran in my second match, with less chances to break. It is nice to have a few more chances and if you go into a tie-break it is a bit more of a toss-up.”

But the 50 year old was unable to make much of an impression on Ivanisevic, who has won more than 82 per cent of points on his serve during the event.

While Sunday’s final was already set, Greg Rusedski and Herrera still had an excited crowd to play for in the last match of the day, with the British star coming out on top, 4-2, 4-1.

Rusedski booked his place in the third-place playoff with a dominant display, featuring some good baseline play mixed in with some serve and volleying.

The home favourite would not fade away, as Herrera battled admirably until the end, but the last-minute replacement in the tournament did not have the reserves to hang on against Rusedski at the end of his second match of the day.

“For Luis today, it was a tough day playing two matches in a day, but I think he played really well and the crowd enjoyed the match,” Rusedski said. “There have been great crowds here this week. It was a little bit more relaxed out there today, so it was a lot of fun.”

Rusedski is excited for the opportunity to play Muster, against whom he won all three matches while on the ATP World Tour, for third place.

“I’ve never lost to him and I would like to continue that obviously,” Rusedski said. “I just have to play as well as I did in the first set against Fabrice [on Friday] in the first match and it’s going to be some high-quality tennis. Tomorrow’s line-up is fantastic: we have Goran and Fabrice in the final and Thomas and myself, so you can’t ask for more."

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