All-Argentine showdown


Calleri to face Coria in Hamburg Masters final

HAMBURG: It will be an all-Argentine showdown when Agustin Calleri take on Guillermo Coria in the final of the Hamburg Masters today. 

On a historic tennis day for Argentina, Calleri beat David Nalbandian 6-4, 6-1 yesterday and the 12th-seeded Coria overcame Gaston Gaudio 6-3, 6-7 (7-3), 6-0. 

Never before had four players from Argentina reached the semi-finals at one ATP tournament.  

It was also the first time four countrymen contested the semi-finals of a Masters Series, the nine tournaments that rank just below the Grand Slams. 

POWER ON: Argentine's Augustin Calleri punches in the air after beating compatriot David Nalbandian 6-4, 6-1 at the semi-final of the Hamburg Masters. He will take on another Argentine, Guillermo Coria in the final.

“It's something very big for our country,'' Calleri said. The last Argentine to win in Hamburg was Guillermo Vilas in 1978. 

Nalbandian, last year's Wimbledon finalist, was the highest-seeded player still in the event at No. 8. 

Although technically an upset, his defeat against Calleri wasn't a complete surprise. 

Nalbandian concedes that clay is not his best surface and that he is more comfortable on hard courts. 

Calleri, on the other hand, has compiled the best record on clay this season along with Gaudio, 24-7, and won his first ATP title in Acapulco. He is in his third final on clay this year. 

Coria used a backhand volley to win the first set and saved a set point while trailing 5-4 in the second stanza. 

At 40-15 on his serve in the 12th game, he called the trainer for treatment on his left leg. Coria returned, won the game and forced the set into a tiebreaker. He committed a double-fault to deliver the set to Gaudio. 

Coria, whose record on clay is 17-4, rallied and rolled through the final set. 

Nalbandian had won four of five previous matches against Calleri, but he was frustrated by the fellow Argentine's returns and tenacity. 

“You never know what he's going to do,'' a visibly disappointed Nalbandian said after the match. 

Calleri ran down many shots and ended up head down over the court fence after chasing a shot. He even won the point, with Nalbandian putting back a shot into the net. 

“I played very high-level tennis,'' Calleri said. “I tried to be aggressive and to hit hard, he doesn't like coming under pressure.'' 

Nalbandian could never break Calleri's serve, squandering eight break points in the match. He often threw down his racket in frustration. 

“I played those points so badly,'' he said. 

A quarter-finalist at the Australian Open at the start of the year, Nalbandian fired an ace with his second serve to save one set point in the first. 

But he hit a forehand wide in the next game to give Calleri the set. 

Nalbandian dropped his serve at the start of the second. He wasted two break points in the fourth game and never caught up again. 

He produced a double-fault to give Calleri triple match point and he used the first with a crosscourt backhand winner. Calleri finished with 32 winners, against 20 for Nalbandian. 

Calleri takes a 2-1 career edge over Coria into the final. – AP  

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