Tennis: Tierro slips into Olivares Cup semifinals

Manolo Pedralvez
Patrick John Tierro won a tough battle with Roberto Ortega-Olmedo to barge into the semifinals of the Olivares Cup

BATTLE TO THE FINISH. Filipino tennis player Patrick John Tierro survived a tough challenge from Spain's Roberto Ortega-Olmedo on Friday. Photo courtesy Manolo Pedralvez

MANILA, Philippines –  After blitzing Roberto Ortega-Olmedo in the opening set 6-1, Patrick John Tierro thought he was in for a cakewalk against his fourth-seeded opponent from Spain.

He was dead wrong.

In a classic fight-to-the-finish, Tierro bucked an ankle sprain and gutted out a 6-1, 6-7 (2-7), 7-6 (7-5) triumph over the tenacious Ortega-Olmedo on Friday, March 28 to sustain his improbable run in reaching the semifinals of the Olivares Cup at the Rizal Memorial Tennis Center.

Shrugging off wasted chances of ending the match in the second and third sets, the Filipino netter finally polished off the never-say-die Spaniard after the marathon match lasting two hours and 35 minutes under the sweltering summer sun on center court.

“I’m super happy (in beating the Spaniard) because I didn’t think I would be able to get this far,” said Tierro after slipping past his 22-year-old rival ranked No. 338 in the Association of Tennis Professional ratings.

It was the second straight time that Tierro bested a fancied Spanish player after subduing Adam Sanjurjo Hermida 5-7, 6-3, 6-3 in the second round the previous day.

He goes up in the semis against Indian ninth-seed Karunuday Singh, who stunned Taiwanese No. 2 seed Chen Ti in three sets 6-7 (3-7), 6-3, 7-6 (7-5).

“I’ll just play my game and see how well I will do tomorrow,” said Tierro, disclosing that he was using the International Tennis Federation Futures competition as a tuneup for next week’s Davis Cup tie between the Philippines and Pakistan.   

The other semifinal clash tomorrow features Australian top seed Benjamin Mitchell, a 7-5, 6-1 winner over No. 6 seed Ivo Clec of Slovakia, and Japanese third seed Shuchi Sekiguchi, who dumped Aussie No. 5  seed Andrew Whittington 7-5, 6-3.

Filipino fans had another reason to celebrate yesterday after Filipino-American Ruben Gonzales and Thai partner Sonchat Ratiwatana, seeded No. 1,  reached the men’s double finals after crushing the tandem of Malaysian Mohammad Asri Merzuki and Czech Ivo Minar 6-2, 6-2

Gonzales and Ratiwatana  battles  Ti and Indonesian Christopher Rungkat, who defeated Slovak Ivo Klek and Singh 6-3, 7-6 (7-4).

After breezing through the first set against the shell-shocked Ortega-Olmedo, Tierro continued to dictate the tempo in the next and seemed to have the match in hand after breaking the Spanish netter in the ninth game at 15-40 to lead at 5-4.  

Overeager in serving out the match in the next, the hometown bet, however, fell into a 0-30 hole after committing two unforced forehand errors,  paving the way for his frisky pint-sized foe to break back and even things at 5-all.

“I was just too excited and thinking too much, which comes from not playing internationally for so long,” said Tierro, whose last ITF event was in 2014, of allowing the game to slip away. “He (Ortega-Olmedo) also seemed to sense where my shots would land.”  

Tierro found himself in a jam once more in the 12th game when Ortega-Olmedo threatened to break him again after trailing at 15-40.

With the small Filipino gallery watching with bated breath,  the Pinoy netter rallied and fought the Spanish  through eight deuces before saving the set by ripping a crosscourt forehand passing shot while Ortega-Olmedo netted a forehand on the last point to send the set into a tiebreak.

But it proved to be a futile effort as the Spanish, brimming with confidence, unleashed a hot serve to overwhelm  Tierro 7-2, extending the match to a deciding third.

Working behind a solid baseline game typical of Spanish slow court specialists, Ortega-Olmedo proved to be a hard nut to crack, particularly in the 10th game where he was down love-40, a perfect opportunity for Tierro, up 4-5, to break him and win the match.

The Spanish, however, refused to wilt and opened his comeback with an ace on the way to force deuce at 40-all, eventually holding serve on a service winner.

Reeling from another squandered chance to wrap up the game, Tierro called for an injury timeout,  complaining of a sprained right ankle  in chasing down one of the Ortega-Olmedo’s shots in the 10th game.

“It was the same one that I sprained during the PCA Open last November,” said the former junior standout, who later said that the five-minute break helped him to regain his bearings.  He had to wear an ankle supporter following his treatment.

“While the injury timeout was justified, it also stopped the Spanish player’s momentum,” noted his coach Manny Tecson. “I believe Tierro would have lost if he did not call for the break.” – Rappler.com

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