Friday was semifinals day at the 50th Copa del Café and was blessed with resplendent sunshine and ideal temperatures for tennis at round 23 degrees Celsius. The eight matches of the day were a big change from the hectic first and second days of the tournament with 64 matches played each day.
The two Boys semifinals, and one of the Girls’, were featured in Night Play. The first of the Boys night matchups was Dutchman Tim Van Rijthoven (NED) against Ryotaru Matsumura (JPN). Van Rijthoven, seeded 14 and ranked 195, was the underdog against sixth seed Matsumura who is ranked 123. The Japanese prevailed 62 62 with a stronger all around game. The Japanese player trains at Club Med Academy in Florida along with other top players in the draws.
In the other semifinal top seed Roman Safiullin of Russia met Peruvian ninth seed Nicolas Alvarez. It was a close match for the first 2 sets as Alvarez came from behind to tie at a set apiece, taking the only set off the Russian in the tournament so far. However, Safiullin then became inspired and only lost four points in the whole of the final set, running out to a 63 57 60 victory.
In daylight Girls singles, the American Catherine Bellis took on Aliona Bolsova of Spain. Flying under the radar and meeting only one seeded player so far, Bellis took advantage of the fall of number two seed Jaqueline Cristian of Romania in the third round to take the last quarterfinal berth. With their similar seed and rankings the match was always going to be close. But displaying a court maturity beyond her 14 years, Bellis was able to improvise tactics by changing speed and moving her opponent around to take the match from her older opponent, winning 46 75 62.
In night action top seed Marie Bouzkova (CZE), ranked 23 in the world, took on unseeded Olga Fridman of Ukraine with a ranking of 269. While Bouzkova came out on top 64 64, the Ukranian held her own on the court, forcing the Czech to play top tennis. Fridman lost the match, but she played a good tournament, beating seed numbers four, nine and 13, and her ranking now is sure to improve.
In the Boys doubles draws, Alvarez and Venezuelan Rafael Coutinho seeded third, got a direct pass into the finals as the Argentines Agustin Torreano and Matías Zukas pulled out of their match due to injury, after the first set. Their opponents in the finals will be unseeded travelling companions Adrian Andrzejczuk of Poland and Nam Loang Ly of Vietnam who posted a convincing win over the Brazilians Orlando Luz and Joao Menezes by a 63 76 score. The Brazilians were seeded one in doubles, and two and three respectively in singles, so the win for Adrian and Nam is a big one.
Girls doubles all went in straight sets. The number three seeded Belgians Morgane Michiels and Greetje Minnen defeated sixth seeded Anna Blinkova of Russia and Jessica Ho of the USA by a comfortable 64 61 score. The Belgian girls, who train and travel together, have developed great teamwork and impressive doubles skills. In the other doubles match number 4 seeds Emily Arbuthnott (GBR) and Luisa Stefani (BRA) beat the second seeds, Usue Arconada (USA) and Aliona Bolsova (ESP) 63 75. Although from different continents, Arbuthnott and Stefani displayed universal doubles skills and imaginative tactics to take the match and secure their place in the final.