Saturday, February 25, 2012

Isner's loss gives Raonic bid another boost

   Milos Raonic's biggest obstacle -- literally and figuratively -- to a rare San Jose-Memphis double was removed Friday.
   Unseeded Austrian Jurgen Melzer, playing with a broken big toe on his right foot, beat 6-foot-9 John Isner, the top seed, 6-3, 7-6 (6) in the quarterfinals of the Regional Morgan Keegan Championships in Memphis, Tenn.
   The 30-year-old Melzer, who told reporters he caught his toe in a bedspread in his hotel on Feb. 16, will face third-seeded Radek Stepanek today at 9 a.m. PST (Tennis Channel).
   Stepanek, the 2009 runner-up to Andy Roddick, ousted 2010 champion Sam Querrey, a San Francisco native, 7-6 (5), 6-0. Stepanek, a 33-year-old Czech, came to Memphis after spending four days sick in bed at home in Florida and not practicing.
   Raonic, seeded fourth, defeated unseeded Olivier Rochus 6-3, 7-6 (3) to set up a semifinal against unseeded Benjamin Becker of Germany today at 1 p.m. (Tennis Channel). Raonic, who moved from Montenegro to Canada at age 3, is 6-foot-5 and Rochus 5-6.
   Raonic, the only seed left in the bottom half of the draw after the first round, improved to 14-1 this year with an eight-match winning streak. He is trying to become the first player to win the San Jose and Memphis titles back to back since his idol, Pete Sampras, in 1996. The last player before Sampras to do it was Brad Gilbert, from the San Francisco Bay Area, in 1989.
   Last week, the 21-year-old Raonic became the seventh player in the Open Era (since 1968) to win two consecutive titles in the Bay Area tournament. He joined Andy Murray (2006-07), Andy Roddick (2004-05), Mark Philippoussis (1999-2000), Sampras (1996-97), John McEnroe (1978-79) and Stan Smith (1968-69). The last player to win three straight crowns in the tournament, which dates to 1889, is Tony Trabert (1953-55).
   Olivetti ousted -- Six-foot-eight Albano Olivetti, a 20-year-old qualifier coming off a victory over eighth-ranked Mardy Fish, lost to Michael Llodra 7-6 (5), 7-5 in an all-French quarterfinal at the Open 13 in Marseille, France. Llodra, 31, won the title in 2010.

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