Kuala Lumpur SF previews and picks: Wawrinka vs. Benneteau, Melzer vs. Sousa

Julien Benneteau is two wins away from his first career ATP title as he goes up against Stanislas Wawrinka in the Kuala Lumpur semifinals on Saturday. Meanwhile, Joao Sousa is looking to maintain his hot streak against Jurgen Melzer. Hasan Murad previews the action.

(5) Julien Benneteau vs. (2) Stanislas Wawrinka

Benneteau and Wawrinka will be going head-to-head for the third time in their careers when they contest a marquee semifinal of the Malaysian Open. The pair has split two career meetings on hard courts and both are most comfortable on the hard surface. Benneteau pocketed impressive wins in similar playing conditions in Rotterdam earlier in the year, including a straight-set victory over Roger Federer. The Frenchman has struggled his way to the semifinals this week, but he is capable of doing damage to the top players because of his ability to take the ball early and return aggressively. He won 51 percent of return points en route to his 6-3 6-3 triumph over Adrian Mannarino in the quarterfinals.

Continuing his cadence from the U.S. Open, Wawrinka is piling up wins yet again. He outlasted the in-form Dmitry Tursunov in a third-set tiebreaker and once again his ability to play the big points well got him out of jail. He saved five of seven break points and did not falter under pressure. The Swiss has been ranked in the Top 10 for 16 weeks and is one of the hottest players on tour right now. With the exodus of top seed David Ferrer, Wawrinka is the favorite to win his first-ever title on an indoor hard courts.

Pick: Wawrinka in 2

(SE) Joao Sousa vs. (4) Jurgen Melzer

Having won their previous meeting on the clay courts of Acapulco this year, Sousa will take on Melzer for the second time in 2013 to mark their second career meeting. After receiving a drubbing from Novak Djokovic in the third round of this year’s U.S. Open, Sousa has been soaring high. Beating a Top 4 player has been the most recent of additions to his achievements this year as he dispatched Ferrer in two sets. The unseeded Portuguese will be attempting to reach his first-ever final of an ATP event.

In stark contrast, his semifinal opponent is enduring a rough patch of form of late. Aside from his winning run in Winston-Salem, Melzer has not won a single match post-Wimbledon in four other tournaments plus a Davis Cup tie before heading to Kuala Lumpur. However, the 32-year old Austrian will have to bring out his best to counter the in-form Sousa, who is brimming with confidence and not feeling any pressure. Melzer, a veteran on tour has more than 300 match wins to his name, definitely has the advantage in terms of experience–but the edge has to go to Sousa because of his current form.

Pick: Sousa in 3

16 Comments on Kuala Lumpur SF previews and picks: Wawrinka vs. Benneteau, Melzer vs. Sousa

  1. Vamosrafa: Just found this thread. Been posting on the other thread.

    After thinking Melzer had righted the ship by winning the 2nd set I’m still undecided which way it will go. On balance I think your pick.

  2. Hey you guys – there’s tennis being played!!!!

    The new boy on the block has just beaten Melzer. A very promising young man with oodles of confidence and a lot of style. A few rough edges to his game but impressive.

    • I watched the first set ed251137 and I thought Meltzer was pants tbh, God knows where he left his forehand. I thought Sousa covered the court well but he did not show me a single killer shot. But he deserves to be in the final, he played better than Ferru and Meltzer.

  3. His backhand needs work but he was doing a lot of damage with the backhand which was lethal at times. What impressed me was his calmness both yesterday and today (apart from one raquet bashing episode) and no sign of nerves bearing in mind he has never gone this far on the main tour. Similar temperament to Pospisil but with more crowd appeal.

  4. There was one vote for Benny in 2. Well done whoever that was.
    Benneteau does occasionally spring these surprises.

    #WTFSyndrome

  5. Due to some work, I could not watch the matches, esp the stan one , I am a little surprised at the outcome but as ed says, julien can spring these surprises. As I mentioned in the preview, he can cause damage in these conditions … I watched some of the first set of the sousa match…he sure looks calm out there..

    Sousa vs benneteau is wide open …

    And raonic is getting consistent,hmmm..

  6. ^^^^ A big test for both players. The first ATP final for Sousa so no way of knowing how well he’ll handle the pressure. Benny has been there 8 times already without ever clinching a title.

    My bet is the Benneteau experience will win out over Sousa’s ambition.

    Benneteau in 3

  7. yeah, your reasoning is sound ed….not sure what to expect from sousa… now that it’s benny, he would not feel much of an underdog so pressure might come in…against wawa he would have more of an underdog with little pressure

    only sousa can tell what is going on in his head… we can only speculate 🙂

  8. Unfortunately the tennis channel is only showing these matches on a tape delayed basis. So the Sousa/Melzer match is on now and next will be Stan/Benny.

    I came on here to find out the results. I am surprised that Stan lost to Benny. It’s true that Benny has the game to trouble good players when he’s on, but I thought for sure that the momentum would continue for Stan.

    I am not as surprised about Sousa. Melzer has been playing like crap for a while now. Sousa just seems to be on a nice run right now.

    I do think that Benny will win. It should be a good match because both guys are playing well now.

    I posted a link to the Beijing draw on another thread late last night. Someone has already mentioned how it’s broken down. The tennis channel won’t start televising until the round of 16.

  9. Have just checked the ATP tennis channel and they too are not featuring Beijing until Thursday. What a bummer – especially as coverage for the women started from today. May be able to find a stream via LveScoreHunter etc.

    For me it means getting up at 7.00am but that’s a lot better than staying up half the night.

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