Marathon Man Seppi Upsets Defending Champion Khachanov In Moscow
Andreas Seppi proved once again at the VTB Kremlin Cup in Moscow that age is just a number. The 35-year-old Italian showed off his supreme fitness on Friday in a 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 quarter-final upset over second-seeded Russian and defending champion Karen Khachanov.
“I think the match didn’t start so well. I was hitting a lot of second serves, but I got better and better as the match went on and that was the key,” Seppi said. “I’m still managing to run well and I’m in the semi-finals here again, so hopefully I can keep going.”
Seppi, who took the title in Moscow in 2012 (d. Bellucci), has won all of his matches this week in three sets. He continues to thrive at this event, having reached at least the quarter-finals in his past six appearances.
Khachanov broke Seppi twice to power through the opening set, but the Italian began the second set with different tactics. He began to hit more off-speed shots and effectively utilise his slice backhand, forcing Khachanov to generate his own pace and creating more unforced errors. Khachanov was unable to take advantage of four break points with Seppi serving at 4-3, then hit a forehand into the net in the next game to set up a deciding set.
Little separated the pair in the final set, but Seppi found a new gear at 3-3. The Italian won 12 of the last 14 points, including an outrageous forehand passing shot on the run to set up match point, scoring his 10th career victory over a Top 10 player.
He'll now face seventh-seeded Frenchman Adrian Mannarino, last year's runner-up, who defeated fourth-seeded Serbian Dusan Lajovic 7-6(3), 6-1. Mannarino defeated Seppi last year in the Moscow semi-finals, but the pair are tied 4-4 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry.
Third-seeded Croatian Marin Cilic built off recording the 500th tour-level victory of his career on Thursday, outlasting Frenchman Jeremy Chardy 6-4, 4-6, 7-6(2) for his first ATP Tour semi-final of the season. Cilic couldn't convert a match on Chardy's serve at 5-4, but regrouped strongly to advance in two hours and 22 minutes. He improved to 4-2 in his FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry with Chardy.
Cilic will next face sixth seed and home favourite Andrey Rublev, who encountered few problems in his 6-2, 6-3 win over Serbian Nikola Milojevic. The 21-year-old Russian has gone 17-6 since August and is through to his second ATP Tour semi-final of the year. Rublev will look to take the lead in his FedExATP Head2Head series with Cilic, which is currently tied 1-1.