[Yet another in a long and hallowed line of award-winning dispatches from our Noumea Bureau Chief, Mr. Jonathan Artman]
Local boy Augustin Gensse continued his great run with victory over Slovakian Pavol Cervenak in straight sets, 7-6(6), 6-4.
Gilles Muller continued his 3-set specialty wins with another over Flavio Cipolla, 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 in a real thriller. Cipolla always does well here in Noumea but had his 2011 campaign ended by the big lefty from Luxembourg.
Vincent Millot pulled out another upset from the hat, defeating compatriot Josselin Ouanna in 3 sets, 3-6, 7-6(0), 7-6(2). A really hard-fought victory to progress to the semis.
2nd seed Jesse Huta Galung marched on towards the Final with a victory over Gregoire Burquier 6-4, 7-5.
The first Semi sees the current favourite for Noumea glory this year, Jesse Huta Galung, face off against surprise package Vincent Millot. Millot has seen off two compatriots as well as Amir Weintraub, who was on an 8-match winning streak before Millot ground it down to an abrupt halt. The young, exciting Dutchman ought to finally put pay to the Frenchman’s hopes due to his consistent play from the baseline. Millot is capable of beating the likes of Galung on his day, however, so it promises to be an intriguing clash. Expect another 3 setter involving the Frenchman but Galung to finally prevail.
The second Semi pits the gigantic Gilles Muller against the lesser-known Augustin Gensse. The latter usually prefers to ply his trade on the clay-courts, and the most probable reason for the Frenchman’s presence in Noumea this week is the location as well as the local favouritism he is currently enjoying. Gensse will have the home fans cheering for him today, but for a player that plays so rarely on the hard courts, it seems quite unlikely he will trouble Muller sufficiently to progress to the Final. Muller upped his game to pass the stiff test of Italian Flavio Cipolla and will be sensing a genuine chance to win this week’s prestigious $75,000 event. Muller has played 9 sets of tennis this week already having battled through 3 matches in admirable fashion – he conceded a set in all of them yet still came out on the winning side.
Fatigue oughtn’t be a factor for the left-handed Luxembourger; often players have to play many more sets of tennis in a week at a Grand Slam so Muller will have to rest and recover quickly to maintain a good physical condition for his semi-final later today. I think Muller will look to finish the job in a simpler and quicker fashion today and I believe he will do just that.
Prediction: Gilles Muller in straight sets to advance to the Final, where he will meet the 2nd seed Jesse Huta Galung.