Photo: Veljko Martinović


In Saturday's semifinals of this year's second ATP Challenger Split Open, we will watch a clash between two French tennis players, and a Polish-Swedish encounter. The biggest tragedian is Mirza Bašić, who dropped the "break" advantage against Mathias Bourgue in the third set.



The quarterfinal day at the Central Court of TC Firule was opened by Kacper Žuk and his win over Aleksandar Vukić 6:4, 6:1. The Australian started better with a "break" for 2:0, but everything after that was about the Polish tennis player.


- I knew that there will be some short changes for me because Vukić has a good serve and forehand. I played well, especially at the backcourt - said Žuk after the match, who also played in the semifinals in Split last week (lost to Kavčič), only to start a new qualifying tournament a day later. He has already played nine matches in less than two weeks.

- Yes, a lot of matches have gathered, but I am physically super prepared for the ground season - added Žuk, who will enter among the Top 200 for the first time with this victory, somewhere in the 191st position. He also admitted that he was inspired by the successes of compatriot Hubert Hurkacz, who recently won the Masters 1000 tournament in Miami.

- His triumph is incredible for Polish tennis because we see that it is not impossible to achieve such goals. I hope to play against him once, maybe this year - said the 22-year-old Žuk.


Photo: Veljko Martinović


His opponent in the semifinals will be Elias Ymer, who defeated Cem Ilkel from Turkey with 6:3, 6:4, saving all three "break" points. The Swede played very well in Split last week as well, he had two match-points against Kavčič in the quarterfinals, but he lost.

- I have just forgotten that match - laughed the Swede who decided to get only positive things out of that match.

- I watched the match again and changed some things in my game, so maybe that defeat was an opportunity for me to progress in the long run. After the Australian Open, I had knee problems, but now I am finding a good rhythm on the clay and I am very happy to qualify for the semi-finals.


Photo: Veljko Martinović


In the second semifinal, we will have a French derby between Quentin Halys and Mathias Bourgue. Halys provided a very good game in the celebration over Thanasi Kokkinakis 6:3, 7:6 (2) making it to the second semifinal at the Challenger this year.

- I played very well and was aggressive from the beginning. This season I had some good matches, unfortunately I didn't win many. Every tournament is getting harder - commented the 24-year-old Halys (ATP 210) who as a junior played three Grand Slam finals in doubles and one in singles.


And finally, in the tensest match of the day, Bourgue defeated Mirza Bašić 6:4, 1:6, 7:5. Bašić missed too much - he led 4:2 in the first set, and then 4:2 with his service in the third set. In the finish, the Frenchman showed why he led 2-1 in sets against Andy Murray at Roland Garros five years ago, before losing that match anyway. Bašić, on the other hand, reached the quarterfinals for the fourth time this season from the qualifications and then dropped out. Today's match was his tenth in 12 days, maybe fatigue caught up with him.

- I had no solutions in the second set and part of the third. Bašić played close to the baseline and I had to change something. I started to express myself more, put in more energy and hit the ball harder. That is what decided in the end - Bourgue was satisfied, who said on the eve of Saturday's clash with his compatriot Halys:

- We are good friends and we are both in good shape. We have had tense matches in the past, it will be interesting.



Halys (Fra) – Kokkinakis (Aus, PR) 6:3, 7:6 (2)
Bourgue (Fra) – Bašić (BiH, Q) 6:4, 1:6, 7:5
Ymer (Šve) – Ilkel (Tur) 6:3, 6:4
Žuk (Polj, Q) – Vukić (Aus) 6:4, 6:1