Defending champion Ferrer survives scare

00:20, Jan 10 2013
Heineken Open 2013
Benjamin Becker from Germany returns a shot in his match with Lukas Rosol of the Czech Republic.
Heineken Open 2013
Lukas Rosol on his way to losing his match with Benjamin Becker in straight sets.
Heineken Open 2013 gallery
A high gust of wind created a little havoc for the first umpire on court this morning.
Heineken Open 2013
Benjamin Becker lines up a serve on his way to winning his match with Lukas Rosol earlier today.
Heineken Open 2013
Igor Sijsling of Netherlands plays a backhand in his first round match against compatriot Matwe Middelkoop.
Heineken Open 2013
Matwe Middelkoop of Netherlands serves in his first round match against Igor Sijsling.
Heineken Open 2013
Thomaz Bellucci of Brazil plays a forehand during his first round match against David Goffin of Belgium.
David Goffin
David Goffin was spirited early in his match against Thomasz Bellucci before falling away to a straight sets loss.
Heineken Open 2013
Xavier Malisse of Belgium returns a shot in his match with Martin Klizan of Slovakia.
Heineken Open 2013
Martin Klizan of Slovakia fires a return during his match with Xavier Malisse today.
Xavier Malisse
Xavier Malisse showed great composure to claim an upset win in round one over seventh seed Martin Klizan.
Open 1
Australian Greg Jones receives medical attention during his qualifying match against Victor Hanescu of Romania on day one.
Open 2
Martin Kilzan, Slovakia, plays a backhand during his first round match against Belgian Xavier Malisse on day one.
Open 3
Greg Jones of Australia serves in his qualifying match against Victor Hanescu of Romania on day one.
Open 4
The artwork on the left leg of the Czech Republic's Lukas Rosol as he walks back to his chair during his match against Benjamin Becker of Germany on day one.
Igor Sijsling
Igor Sijsling moves into the second round after beating fellow Dutchman Robin Haase.
Greg Jones
Greg Jones powered past Jurgen Melzer in the first round of the Heineken Open, beating the sixth seed 7-6(7) 6-2.
Dan King-Turner
Dan King-Turner in action during his first round loss.
Gael Monfils
Gael Monfils entertained the fans during his win in three sets over Benjamin Becker.
Heineken Tennis Open
Colombia's Santiago Giraldo during day 3 of the 2013 ATP Heineken Tennis Open.
Heineken Open 2013
Xavier Malisse during day three of the 2013 ATP Heineken Tennis Open.
Heineken Open 2013
Olivier Rochus on day three of the Heineken Open New Zealand.
Heineken Open 2013
Heineken promotion girls at the Heineken Open.
Kohlschreiber
Philipp Kohlschreiber on his way to victory on day three of the Heineken Open.
Heineken Open 2013
Germany's Tommy Hass in training on day three.
Gael Monfils
Gael Monfils plays a shot between his legs during his straight sets win over Australian Greg Jones.
Tommy Haas
Tommy Haas was in blistering form in during his win over Igor Sijsling.
David Ferrer
David Ferrer hits a forehand during his three-set win over Lu Yen-Hsun.
Heineken Open 2013
Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany during day four of the Heineken Open New Zealand Quarter finals.
Heineken Open 2013
Belgium's Xavier Malisse in action on centre court in the quarter finals of the Heineken Open.
Heineken Open 2013
A fan watches the Heineken Open.
Querrey
Sam Querrey on day four of the Heineken Open.
Gel Monfils
Gel Monfils beat Tommy Haas to progress to the semifinals.
Heineken Open
Philipp Kohlschreiber from Gemany reacts as he wins the first semi final on day five of the Heineken Open.
Heineken Open 2013
Sam Querrey from the US stretches to return a ball from Philipp Kohlschreiber.
Heineken Open 2013
Philipp Kohlschreiber from Gemany on his way to winning the first semi final.
David Ferrer
David Ferrer celebrates his win against Gael Monfils.
Heineken Open 2013
David Ferrer beat Gael Monfils 6-1 6-2 in the second semi fianl of the Heineken Open.
David Ferrer
David Ferrer on his way to winning the Heineken Tennis Open.
David Ferrer
David Ferrer reacts to winning the Heineken Tennis Open for a record equaling forth time.

As the shadows crept across centre court, doubts circled around David Ferrer's favouritism for a record fourth Heineken Open title.

Ferrer may have taken his first step towards history with a 6-4 2-6 6-3 second round win over Taipei's Lu Yen-Hsun, but in his maiden appearance of 2013, the three-time defending champion was severely tested in the near two-hour dogfight.

While some will attribute Ferrer's surprisingly sluggish start to early-season rust, he will need to swiftly regain form, if he is to become the first man in 46 years to win four consecutive titles in Auckland.  

Some powerhouse contenders are waiting to preserve Australian legend Roy Emerson's long-held record and leave Ferrer tied with New Zealand great Onny Parun, who won here in 1973, 75 and 76.

In a high-class centre court match, world No 60 Lu had Ferrer battling the odds. 

Lu didn't fear the world No 5. He had the Spaniard scampering, breaking him once in the captivating 51-minute first set and then twice in the second to force a deciding third set no-one had predicted.

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The capacity crowd warmed to underdog. They couldn't have asked for more.

This was meant to be a stroll in the park for the top seed. Lu had other ideas, proving the tournament is anything but a foregone conclusion. 

Wearing his traditional bandana and displaying quick wrists from the baseline, Ferrer never seemed comfortable.

One suspected he would pull away after breaking in the fourth game of the final set but he couldn't shake the unlikely challenger. Lu broke once more and, even though a remarkable upset always appeared out of reach, the crowd's standing ovation painted the picture of a titanic struggle.   

Ferrer's 21 win-five loss record in Auckland, and eighth appearance in the final eight, is impressive, but Lu's efforts will have given Slovakia's Lukas Lacko a timely confidence boost for Thursday's quarter-finals.

HAAS SHOWS HIS CLASS

Earlier, third seed Tommy Haas put on exhibition in his straight sets cakewalk over Igor Sijsling to set up a world-class quarter-final showdown with spectacular Frenchman Gael Monfils tomorrow.

It had been 12 years since the former world No 2 German last appeared in Auckland, when he lost the final in 1999.

This 6-3 6-4 win was the perfect way to return.

At 34, and entering his 16th year on the tour, Haas has, clearly, lost none of his competitive drive, or damaging offensive game.

Fifty-six minutes was all the elder statesman, who appeared in superb touch, needed to book his place against Monfils.

Having started last year outside the top 200, Haas is enjoying a golden run, rising to 21 in the world.

He will again need to produce his best to stop Monfils' revival.

That should be the match of the day. Don't miss it.

MONFILS CLINICAL

He kept the entertainment to a minimum - with just one through the legs shot - but crowd-favourite Frenchman Monfils swiftly exposed Greg Jones to keep his colourful presence alive in Auckland.

After yesterday's torrid three set win, Monfils may have wanted to conserve energy. That's the impression he gave Australian surprise package Jones, who progressed after upsetting sixth seed Jurgen Melzer.

Monfils showed Jones was out of his depth, breaking him in the third game of each set and not dropping his own serve.

The former world No 7 needed just over one hour to claim the 6-4 6-2 win.

KOHLSCHREIBER PROGRESSES  

In a three-set marathon, former champion Philipp Kohlschreiber eventually defeated the determined spirit of Alejandro Falla to advance to his fifth quarter-final in Auckland.

Kohlschreiber, at times, looked a shadow of the player who won the Heineken Open in 2008 but the German's experience and class shone through in the 7-6 (4) 4-6 6-3 win. He will meet Belgian journeyman Xavier Malisse in tomorrow's final eight.

Played in scorching temperatures over 26 degrees, the two-hour 12 minutes slugfest featured many momentum shifts.

In his ninth appearance in Auckland, Kohlschreiber looked best when he stood tall and hit smoothly through the ball.

The second seed took the first set - after Falla failed to catalyse on a 4-2 tie breaker lead - but then double faulted at the end of the second set as the gallant Colombian battler launched a comeback.   

The 29-year-old Kohlschreiber ramped up his aggression and accuracy in the deciding set, finally subduing the world No 53.

QUERREY CRUISES

Earlier, in little over one hour, Sam Querrey outclassed last year's finalist, Olivier Rochus, 7-5 6-3 to advance to tomorrow's quarter-finals.

The well-rested world No 22 American, who, along with the other top four seeds enjoyed a first round bye, produced 18 aces - nine in each set - and only needed three breaks of serve to finish off his Belgian opponent.

Querrey's serve is a lethal asset.

He won 34 of his 36 first-serve points and varied his game well from there, coming to the net and pushing forehand winners.

The 25-year-old demonstrated why the remainder of tournament day sessions are sold out this week.

Fairfax Media