Kohlschreiber flogs feeble Fognini in Auckland quarters

 

Kohlschreiber flogs feeble Fognini in Auckland quarters
Leonardo Mayer of Argentina eyes on a ball for a return shot to Tennys Sandgren of the US during the quarterfinal of the ASB Classic Mens tennis tournament in Auckland

Wellington - The veteran is shaping as a strong contender in a field weakened by withdrawals

By AFP

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Published: Thu 10 Jan 2019, 9:28 PM

Last updated: Thu 10 Jan 2019, 11:33 PM

Evergreen Philipp Kohlschreiber rolled back the years to storm into the Auckland Classic semifinals Thursday with a straight-sets demolition of second seed Fabio Fognini.
The 35-year-old German tore apart the lacklustre Italian 6-3, 6-1 to remain in the reckoning at a tournament where he claimed the title way in back in 2008.
Currently ranked 34th in the world, Kohlschreiber has not dropped a set on his way to a final four showdown with American Tennys Sandgren, who beat Argentina's Leonardo Mayer 6-3, 7-6 (7/5).
The other semifinal pits Briton Cameron Norrie - a victor over American Tyler Fritz - against Jan-Lennard Struff of Germany.
Kohlschreiber, unseeded this year, was a class above world number 13 Fognini, who appeared unfocused and more interested in boarding a plane to next week's Australian Open in Melbourne.
Despite his advancing years, the veteran is shaping as a strong contender in a field weakened by withdrawals and upset results that have send all the seeds heading for the exits.
Kohlschreiber comfortably beat Sandgren in straight sets in their only previous meeting in Monte Carlo last year.
"I'm still improving my game even at 35-years old ... I have to be ready for the young ones and I'll try to continue to play for a few years yet," he said.
Kohlschreiber raced to an early break in the first set then held on as Fognini stretched the German's next service game out for 10 minutes trying to respond.
But the German had all the answers and Fognini's resistance crumbled as the set wore on, with the Italian committing 16 unforced errors and four double faults.
The second set followed a similar pattern and the only time Fognini appeared animated was when he received a code violation for petulantly hitting a ball into the crowd.
There was no lack of application from either player in Struff's epic 7-6 (7/5), 6-7 (6/8), 7-6 (9/7) win over Spain's Pablo Carreno Busta, which stretched for three hours in humid conditions.
"I was just grinding and hanging in there," Struff said, paying tribute to his opponent's fighting qualities.
He has never previously met his semifinal opponent Norrie, who was raised in New Zealand but switched allegiances to Britain when he was 16.
Norrie admitted he was apprehensive ahead of his 7-6 (7/3), 6-3 win over Fritz.
"Honestly, I was expecting to do shocking here," he said, "I've never played well in Auckland at this tournament, so it's a big surprise to me but it means so much."


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