After exiting the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in the qualifying stage, Lucas Pouille is into the semifinals after the lucky loser benefitted from Juan Mónaco withdrawing before taking to court for their quarterfinal clash. The walkover gave the young Frenchman his first semifinal appearance at a Masters 1000 event.
Mónaco to focus on Roland Garros campaign
32-year-old Mónaco had a strong week in the Italian city, after only receiving a place in the main draw due to a protected ranking. The Argentine has slowly been adjusting to being back on tour and showed he’s close to his former self by winning the recent title in Houston. Before this withdrawal, he had defeated Steve Johnson in the opening round, following the success up with a victory over Kevin Anderson after losing the opening set. His finest showing set up the quarterfinal with Pouille, as he defeated current French Open champion Stan Wawrinka 6-7(5), 6-3, 6-4 to reach his first quarterfinal at a Masters level since Miami last year.
His participation for the upcoming Grand Slam at Roland Garros is in doubt, however, after this latest injury setback, with the former world number ten withdrawing due to discomfort in his left hip. He took the sensible option of resting ahead of the French Open and seeing if he can recover with time running out. Despite this negative ending, his ranking is projected to rise to at least 86 in the world, up 28 places as it currently stands.
Pouille into his first ever Masters 1000 semifinal
Lucky loser Pouille receives further luck in Rome, as he progresses into his first ever Masters 1000 semifinal after only playing two main draw matches. The Frenchman arrived in Italy as the top seed in qualifying, but lost out to Mikhail Kukushkin in straight sets in the final round. Fortunately a main draw place became vacant, due to compatriot Jo-Wilfried Tsonga withdrawing before a ball was hit. He received a bye into the second round, where he defeated qualifier Ernests Gulbis in a three-set thriller. David Ferrer was his opponent in the third round, but Pouille did not hold back, and stunned the world number nine by winning 6-4, 6-1.
The quarterfinal clash was already the 22 year-old’s first at this level of the ATP game, but Mónaco’s hip injury sent him through to the last four without even needing to win a point. It’s been a progressive year for Pouille, as he also reached his first ATP singles final in Bucharest, where Fernando Verdasco proved just too much for the youngster. This combined with this deep run in Rome, leaves him projected at 31 in the world, and set to be confirmed as a seed for his home Grand Slam event. He faces Andy Murray tomorrow for a place in Sunday's final.