Monfils against Haas a quarter-final to savour

DAVID LONG
Last updated 05:00 10/01/2013
David Ferrer
Peter Meecham/ Fairfax Media Zoom
David Ferrer reacts to winning the Heineken Tennis Open for a record equaling forth time.

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Tommy Haas against Gael Monfils is a match that would comfortably sit well in the quarter-finals of a Grand Slam, so to see it in the quarters of a lowly ATP 250 tournament in New Zealand is something really to cherish.

They will play each other today for a place in the semifinals and it could possibly be one of the most entertaining matches at the Heineken Open for the past decade.

Haas, the impressive German who beat Igor Sijsling 6-3 6-4, may be 34 years old but is playing some of the best tennis of his long and illustrious career and will go up against one of the game's real entertainers, Monfils.

The Frenchman still aspires to win grand slams and his time in Auckland is all part of that journey,

Languishing at 99 in rankings, because he had to spend five months off the circuit last year with a knee injury, Monfils certainly looks to be playing closer to his previous high ranking of No 7 than where he currently resides.

Yesterday he beat Australian Greg Jones 6-4 6-2 in six minutes over an hour, but he has high expectations of himself and says he wasn't happy with how he played.

"It was good but not a great game if I want to be better," Monfils said.

"I was too shy with my shots, I can go for shots more with my forehand, be closer to the baseline, I can reach the net more.

"There are a lot of things to do, I am happy because I ran well and put the ball in, but I am not happy with way I should play."

Once again, Monfils would regularly chat the umpire at the change of ends, but he says it's not because he's complaining about something, rather than that's just the way he is.

"I love to talk with the umpire," he said.

"Most people say I lose my concentration but I want to win and I stay focussed.

"I love to talk and it is part of the show."

Despite being the tournament's second seed, the German Philipp Kohlschreiber is something of the forgotten man at the Open.

With world No 5 David Ferrer looking to win in Auckland for the fourth time and Monfils and Haas all here, Kohlschreiber has slipped under the radar.

But he will benefit from those three players all being in the other half of the draw to him and the American Sam Querrey looks like being his only obstacle on the way to the final.

Yesterday Kohlschreiber did need three sets to beat Alejandro Falla 7-6 4-6 6-3, but said the Colombian is usually a tricky opponent for him.

"It was a close fight and maybe I took more advantage of the few chances I got," Kohlschreiber said.

"It could have gone for him, but maybe I was tougher in the big moments."

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As Ferrer is 15 places higher than him in the rankings and won a remarkable seven tournaments last year, Kohlschreiber admits he's the player to beat, but would relish the chance to play him as it would mean he has got to the final.

"David played an unbelievably good season last year, he won here, so he's a big favourite to win the tournament," he said, before Ferrer played Lu Ten-Hsum last night. 

"But we all have a chance to beat him, I would play him in the final and if I get there I'd be very happy to play against him."

Today, Kohlschreiber takes on the veteran Belgian Xavier Malisse. They have met three times in the past with Malisse winning two of those contests, however, both of those victories were in 2005.

"He is a quality player and has lots of talent, said the German.

"Maybe I am the favourite because of the rankings and I hope I have a chance to win the match."

- Fairfax Media

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