ITALIAN SEMIFINAL COMING UP
The three Italians remaining at the start of Friday's quarter-finals in Budapest were on the verge of making history. But last year's runner-up at the Gazprom Hungarian Open, Slovenian Aljaz Bedene, spoiled the party.
The No. 5-seeded Bedene defeated qualifier Lorenzo Sonego in the Italian's first ATP World Tour quarter-final 6-3, 2-6, 6-2 in two hours, 22 minutes on Friday to reach the sixth tour-level semi-final of his career. The World No. 57 will look to advance to his fourth final (0-3) when he plays Aussie John Millman or lucky loser Yannick Maden on Saturday. Play in that match was suspended due to darkness, but Millman will serve for the victory against Maden on Saturday at 2-6, 6-1, 5-4
"I'm fighting, that's the most important thing," Bedene said. "Obviously I like it here in Budapest."
Both eighth seed Andreas Seppi and lucky loser Marco Cecchinato had advanced to the semi-finals before Bedene triumphed. If Sonego would have been able to defeat the Slovenian, it would have been the first time since 1987 St. Vincent that three Italians made the semi-finals of an ATP World Tour event [Francesco Cancellotti (runner-up), Claudio Pistolesi and Paolo Cane (semi-finalists) did it]. This was still the first tour-level event featuring three Italian quarter-finalists since 2017 Umag (Fognini, Giannessi, Lorenzi).
It is not unfamiliar territory for Seppi, who defeated Georgian Nikoloz Basilashvili 6-4, 7-6(3) in one hour, 49 minutes. The 34-year-old has won three ATP World Tour titles and is pursuing his first trophy since 2012 Moscow.
"I think I played a solid match. I was very focused," Seppi said. "I think I played very well in the important moments."
In the next round, Seppi will play a friend and compatriot in Cecchinato, who pumped his right fist in celebration after hitting a smash winner to wrap up a 5-7, 6-4, 6-2 victory over seventh-seeded German Jan-Lennard Struff. The Italian lucky loser is through to his first ATP World Tour semi-final. Cecchinato, who reached a career-best No. 82 in the ATP Rankings in 2015, is projected to crack the Top 75.
"I'm very, very happy because next week I'll also go to my best ATP Ranking," Cecchinato said. "I played a very good match today against Struff, who is a very tough player for me. Now I await my opponent for tomorrow."
Did You Know?
Budapest is the first event with two lucky losers in the quarter-finals (Cecchinato, Maden) since 2015 Auckland (Falla, Pouille).