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Game over for Kratochvil

Kratochvil waves goodbye to Gstaad after Friday's defeat

(Keystone)

Bern's Michel Kratochvil has lost his quarter-final encounter at the Swiss Open tennis tournament in Gstaad, ending Switzerland's involvement in this year's singles competition.

Kratochvil became the last Swiss in contention in Gstaad, following the first round exits of Roger Federer, Marc Rosset, George Bastl, Lorenzo Manta and Ivo Heuberger.

But on Friday he was unable to maintain his impressive form this week, losing in the last eight to the Czech Republic's Jiri Novak.

Positive week

"It's been an absolutely positive week for me, although of course I'm disappointed today," Kratochvil told swissinfo afterwards. "The crowd were behind me all the way. It's only my second Gstaad tournament, and I'm the first Swiss player in four years to reach the quarter-finals, so I've got plenty to work on for the future."

Struggling to find consistency on the rain-dampened clay, the Swiss number two was broken midway through the opening set. Unable to find a way past Novak's strong service game, Kratochvil soon found himself trailing 4-6.

A strong start to the second set revived the hopes of the watching Swiss fans, as Kratochvil broke Novak for the first time. But after going 2-0 up, the 22-year-old player was broken back immediately. At times, Kratochvil played brilliantly but with Novak playing consistently deep and powerful shots from the baseline, the Swiss player soon found himself in further trouble.

Deserved winner

Two more breaks followed, allowing Novak to wrap up a 6-4, 6-2 victory. While admitting that his performance had not been as good as in his first two matches here, Kratochvil insisted that his opponent had been a deserved winner.

"I could have played better today, perhaps come forward for the volley more. But Jiri played very positive tennis. His usual weakness - the forehand - was particularly strong and he was making no mistakes, playing very long balls all the time."

Although Gstaad is just up the road from Kratochvil's home in the Bernese suburb of Ostermundigen, the Swiss number two said he would not have time to savour home comforts this weekend.

"I'll be heading off to Amsterdam for my next tournament either tomorrow or at the latest on Sunday morning. I want to get over there so I can get my preparation just right. But hopefully I can follow the rest of the results from Gstaad on the television."

Ferrero into final

The first of those results came quickly on Saturday, with Spanish clay court ace Juan Carlos Ferrero polishing off France's Sebastien Grosjean in straight sets (6-4, 6-4) during the first of the day's semifinals.

The 21-year-old Spaniard played near faultless tennis, needing just over an hour to end Grosjean's hopes of a Bastille day celebration.

Ferrero could face another Spaniard in Sunday's final, if defending champion Alex Corretja can overcome Czech underdog Jiri Novak in the second semi-final.

A win for Corretja would extend the Spanish domination of this Swiss event - nine of the last ten winners in Gstaad have come from Spain.

by Mark Ledsom, Gstaad

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