Andujar upsets Montanes in Morocco
CASABLANCA, Morocco (AP)
Pablo Andujar upset top-seeded Albert Montanes 6-4, 6-4 Saturday to reach the Grand Prix Hassan II final and stay on course for his first career title.
The Spaniard will play fifth-seeded Potito Starace of Italy in Sunday's final. Starace beat No. 8 Victor Hanescu of Romania 6-1, 6-7 (3), 7-6 (2) and is also looking for his first career title.
The 25-year-old Andujar, ranked 69th, lost his only previous final last year at Bucharest, which was also held on outdoor clay.
''I played very well today. It was a difficult match since he knows exactly how to play against me,'' Andujar said after beating his countryman for the first time in three career meetings. ''I went match by match during the whole week without ever thinking about the final. I have nothing to lose and I'm looking forward to the final.''
Starace, who is ranked 47th, lost his three previous finals - all on outdoor clay. Those losses came at Umag, Croatia last year, and at Kitzbuhel, Austria and Valencia, Spain in 2007.
''He is a great player who loves clay,'' said Andujar, who has lost both previous matches against Starace - this year at Santiago, Chile and four years ago at Valencia. ''It will be a hard match.''
Both Spanish players struggled with their serves in a scrappy match lasting nearly two hours. Andujar broke the 24th-ranked Montanes' serve five times and lost his own three times.
But Andujar's spirited defending saw him save a further 13 breakpoint chances.
In the second semifinal, the 29-year-old Starace broke Hanescu's serve five times and dropped his only once in the second set.
Hanescu, last year's runner-up, struggled in the decisive tiebreaker and Starace closed out the win on his first match point.