VIENNA: ATP year-end candidate David Ferrer put himself closer to a place in November’s season finale after dispatching Fabio Fognini 6-4, 6-2 in the quarterfinals of the Austria Open on Friday (Saturday in Manila).
The Spanish top seed is fighting for one of the two remaining spots at the World Tour finals in the English capital and spent only 74 minutes in his win over the listless Italian.
Ferrer stands provisional eighth, trailing seventh-placed Kei Nishikori of Japan who is currently sidelined with a recurring shoulder injury.
“It was a close first set, I was a break up but he played well,” said the 33-year-old winner after beating Fognini for the ninth time without a loss.
“He’s not consistent. In the second set he lost focus and I was able to win.”
Ferrer will play on Saturday against Gael Monfils after the sixth seeded Frenchman recovered to defeat Czech Lukas Rosol 6-7 (3/7), 6-3, 6-3 with 18 aces and 40 winners as he continues to impress in his first tournament return from injury.
Monfils is back on court after last playing six weeks ago when he quit a US Open first-round match with a lower back problem.
“It will be tough for sure, he’s top 10, I’ve not played top 10 for a while,” said Monfils. “The court is very slow here, but my main focus is on the recovery.
“I’ll be ready to offer what I have. If I’m in good shape there will be long rallies. Hopefully I can hang in with David.”
2014 Vienna finalist Ferrer said that he has put London qualification out of mind and must think only of his next match.
“I will be focused for the semi-final, I did a good step to get closer to London, but nothing has changed. I will still have to fight.”
South African Kevin Anderson went down to defeat – but not before serving his way through the 1,000 ace barrier.
The second seed hit 23 aces but still lost 5-7, 7-6 (7/5), 6-4 to Steve Johnson of the United States in a gruelling two and three-quarter hour duel.
Anderson now has 1,003 aces in 2015, joining Ivo Karlovic (1,321) and John Isner (1,162) in the 1,000-plus aces club.
The result did nothing to help his outside chances of snatching one of the two remaining places in the eight-man London field.
Anderson, 29, entered Friday’s match in provisional 11th place, but standing more than 1,100 computer points shy of a theoretical spot in the field.
Johnson, ranked 47 in the world, will be competing in his third semifinals of the season where he will face Latvia’s Ernests Gulbis who knocked out seventh seed Ivo Karlovic 7-6 (7/4), 7-6 (7/5).
“Tennis is unpredictable, anything can happen,” said Johnson after winning in front of an all-time record crowd for the Stadthalle of 9,100. “I’m pleased I went out there and executed.
“Ernests was once a top 10 player and he’s had a great career. It’s not a surprise, he’s a great player. I’ve played him six times and lost the last four.
“I played well today and I’m really glad to go through. I hope I’m able to stick around in Vienna a few more days.”
Gulbis, who now stands outside the world top 100 after riding a career ranking rollercoaster, has rededicated himself to training after reuniting with Vienna-based coach Gunther Bresnik.
Gulbis will be playing his first semi-final in more than a year after downing Karlovic, who lost despite 19 aces and 38 winners in a match without a break of serve.