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German rides fun train into Irving Tennis Classic semifinals

Fort Worth Star Telegram
Published: 16 March 2012

IRVING -- Bjorn Phau has been playing professional tennis for a long time, but as his career winds down, the 32-year-old German is out having fun and enjoying himself.


He's been having a lot of fun this week at Irving Tennis Classic. And he's playing some of the best tennis of his career, including Friday's 6-4, 7-6 (4) victory over No. 4 seed Robin Haase of the Netherlands in the quarterfinals of the ATP Challenger event at the Four Seasons Resort and Club.


After winning the first set, the No. 113-ranked Phau rallied from 5-3 down in the second set to force a tiebreaker. He then jumped out to an early lead and held on for the straight-sets victory over the 55th-ranked Haase.


Phau has won ATP Challenger events this year in Heibronn, Germany, and Bergamo, Italy after starting the year ranked No. 172.


"I'm 32 and for a tennis player, I'm in my last years of my career," said Phau, who reached a career-high 59 ranking in 2006. "I hope I can continue and get into the top 100 and play those big tournaments."


Phau said the difference between his early years on the tour and now is that he's more relaxed.


"Before, I was maybe a little too motivated, and that kept me from playing at the top-top level, "Phau said. "Right now, I'm relaxed, I enjoy traveling and I enjoy playing these tournaments."


Phau will meet former No. 18 Igor Andreev of Russia in today's semifinals, which will be televised on KTXA/Ch. 21. Andreev defeated No. 8 seed Lukas Lacko of Slovakia 6-3, 3-6, 6-2.


Earlier this year, the 24-year-old Lacko, who is ranked No. 69, played his way into the Australian Open as a qualifier before losing in the third round to No. 2-ranked Rafael Nadal. Lacko also reached the finals in Zagreb, Croatia.


"Lukas is having a really good year," said Andreev, who is currently ranked No. 107 and coming back from a knee injury. "He's had a couple of real good wins, so I'm really happy to go through to the semifinals. I'm really happy with the way I'm playing."


In the other semifinal, former world No. 2 Tommy Haas of Germany will take on qualifier Frank Dancevic of Canada, who upset top seed Marin Cilic of Croatia 7-6 (5), 7-6 (5).


Dancevic, ranked No. 175, was up a set and 4-1 in the second, but the No. 24-ranked Cilic came back to force a tiebreaker. Dancevic finally won the match on his sixth match point, and fourth of the tiebreaker.


Haas, a wild card who is ranked No 169 and coming back from a succession of injuries, defeated No. 73-ranked Gilles Muller of Luxembourg 6-4, 6-4.

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