| Fifth seed Carlos Moya of Spain celebrates defeating unseeded American Robby Ginepri 6-7 (5-7), 6-3, 7-6 (7-4) in the quarter final in Key Biscayne Wednesday. (AFP)
Miami: Fifth seed Carlos Moya wore his lucky sleeveless shirt again to end the winning run of American wild card Robby Ginepri in a thrilling three-set quarter final at the Nasdaq-100 Open on Wednesday.
The Spaniard won 6-7, 6-3, 7-6 after a searching examination from the 20-year-old Ginepri, who left the $3.25 million hardcourt tournament with the consolation of a place in the world’s top 50.
Moya has become a fashion icon here with his blue and white vest, and said he would wear it again in his semi-final against 13th seed Paradorn Srichaphan of Thailand, who defeated unseeded American Todd Martin 6-3, 6-7, 7-5.
“I haven’t lost yet wearing it and, as long as it gives me luck, I’m going to keep wearing it,” he said. The match against Ginepri, who also reached the last eight at Indian Wells earlier this month, was a see-saw battle between two of the tournament’s hardest hitters.
Moya dropped the first set after leading 4-1, and also going 5-2 up in the tie-break. But he hit back to break Ginepri’s serve in the second game of the second set.
The decider went with serve until the tie-break. Ginepri forced three mini-breaks in the tiebreak to lead 4-2, the only time there was more than a point in it until Moya’s spectacular overhead volley set up two match points at 6-4.
He needed only one, with Ginepri returning a fierce forehand into the net. Moya said, “I didn’t play my best match here but I kept fighting and gave it my all and it paid off.”
Ginepri beat two seeds, Alex Corretja and James Blake, on his way to the last eight and was attempting to become the first wild card since Jimmy Connors in 1987 to reach the semi-finals.
He is also the only player to reach the quarter finals of both Masters Series events in 2003 following his fine display at Indian Wells, where he beat former world No. 1 Marat Safin.
Ginepri will rise significantly from his world ranking of 61 when the new list is released on Monday.
Martin entertained the Stadium Court’s night-owls by almost recovering from a set and 4-2 down in a match lasting two hours 18 minutes.
The American’s run in a tournament in which he said he had “absolutely stunk” in the past looked to be over midway through the second set of his quarter final against Paradorn.
The 32-year-old, though, showed why he can never be written off by breaking back to 4-4 before forcing a tie-break, which he won 7-5. Martin then broke in the first game of the final set.
Paradorn’s punishing service returns kept Martin on the back-foot in the final two games and he finally wrapped up victory when the American sent a backhand volley into the net.
“He almost got me again,” said the Thai, who lost their previous two meetings, both on grass. “It’s always tough to play against him, he’s a great player with lots of experience. You never know what’s going to happen against him so I just hung in there.”
Rubin upsets Henin
In women’s section, Chanda Rubin upset fourth-seeded Belgian Justine Henin-Hardenne 6-3, 6-2 to become the third American to qualify for the semi-finals.
Rubin will now take on Jennifer Capriati after top seed and defending champion Serena Williams has played third seed Kim Clijsters of Belgium. Capriati defeated Meghann Shaughnessy 4-6, 7-6, 6-4 earlier on Wednesday.
The 12th seed delivered another confident display as she swept past former Wimbledon runner-up Henin-Hardenne, who said her game was well below its usual standard.
Rubin raced into a 4-0 lead in the first set and took her foot off the pedal only once, allowing Henin-Hardenne a solitary break point at 5-3. In the second set, Henin-Hardenne continued to struggle with her serve and Rubin broke again to lead 3-2. In the final three games, the American conceded only one point as she returned serve with deadly precision.
This is Rubin’s best performance here since she lost the 1996 final to Steffi Graf. She beat eighth seed Amelie Mauresmo of France in the fourth round earlier this week.
Earlier, the magic touch that helped Shaughnessy surprise second seed Venus Williams in the previous round deserted her as Capriati won their quarter-final in three sets.
Capriati made 41 unforced errors in a tame victory during which she dropped only her second set to her fellow American in seven meetings. Shaughnessy produced 48 unforced errors in a match that lasted two hours 34 minutes.
Paes-Rikl a step from final
Leander Paes and David Rikl of the Czech republic have moved into the men’s doubles semi-finals Wednesday.
In their quarter final match, the sixth seeded Indo-Czech pair defeated second seeds Jonas Bjorkman of Sweden and Tood Woodbridge of Australia 7-6 (8-6), 7-6 (7-5).