Leander Lazaro pulled through in a tight first set duel then mastered fancied Patrick John Tierro in the next to carve out a 7-5, 6-1 reversal and arrange a title clash with Johnny Arcilla in the Pawnshop-Palawan Express Pera Padala Tuna Festival Open Tennis Championship at the Gen. Santos City Tennis Club in Gen. Santos City yesterday.
The former National U standout leaned on his solid baseline game and pounced on the second seed Tierro’s miscues to pound out the victory, his biggest since steering the Bulldogs to their fourth straight championship early this year. Lazaro’s win also ended the second ranked Tierro’s quest for a three straight championship after sweeping Arcilla in the two PCA Open events recently.
Lazaro, a former two-time UAAP MVP and rookie of the year, took the next two points after Tierro forced a deuce in the 11th game to hold serve then surprised the latter in the next to break and win the opening frame.
Tierro never recovered from that setback as Lazaro broke the former again via a shut-out in the second game of the second set then won the next three games to go 5-0 before Tierro broke the slump and held serve and Lazaro rattled off four straight points to clinch the set and the match.
The 23-year-old ace from Malabon, who reached the quarters of the recent Olivarez Cup, hopes to complete his remarkable campaign when he takes on Arcilla at 1 p.m. today (Saturday).
The top seeded Arcilla held sway to frustrate No. 4 Ronard Joven, 6-4, 6-2, in the other semis match of the event sponsored by the country’s leading pawnshop, remittance and claim center Palawan Pawnshop and presented by Slazenger.
Meanwhile, No. 1 Clarice Patrimonio gets a chance for a payback as she trounced Shaira Rivera, 6-4, 6-1, in the ladies semis of the event backed by Asiatraders Corp., exclusively distributor of Slazenger, the official ball.
Second ranked Khim Iglupas, on the other hand, scored a 4-5(ret.) win over Hannah Espinosa in their side of the Final Four to stay in the title hunt in the event, the first of three Open championships on the PPS-PEPP calendar.
The Iligan City-based Iglupas, who turned 18 last month, subdued Patrimonio to complete a three-peat in the Olivarez Cup but the latter is going all-out to get back at the Philippine Tennis Academy mainstay in their 9 a.m. duel today and snap a long title spell.
Meanwhile, the next Open is set Oct. 31-Nov. 6 for the Pintaflores Festival Open while the Dagitab Festival Open on Dec. 18-22. For details, contact Bobby Mangunay,