Two-time reigning BlackRock Masters Tennis Champion Paul Haarhuis produced a dazzling performance in London on Friday afternoon to overcome former champion John McEnroe 6-3, 6-2 and book his place in the semi-finals.
A packed crowd at the Royal Albert Hall watched as 48-year-old McEnroe got off to a feisty start in todayâs quarterfinal encounter, angrily contesting a line call only minutes into the first set.
But despite a valiant effort, McEnroe was never able to get to grips with the Dutchmanâs blistering returns of serve which neutralised his strongest weapon. The decisive break eventually came in the 7th game of the first set.
From then on, Haarhuis rarely failed with his ground-strokes and broke twice in the second set to take an unassailable 5-1 lead before closing out the match 6-3, 6-2 in 84 minutes. Afterwards, McEnroe admitted Haarhuis was a deserving winner.
âI got beaten, fair and square,â said McEnroe.
âI played well but Paul played unbelievable tennis. Heâs a much better player than people realise. I felt good out there and was hitting the ball well, and if there is one place that you want to play well itâs here at the Royal Albert Hall.â
McEnroe, whose next BlackRock Tour of Champions event will be in Belfast in February playing alongside old rival Bjorn Borg, is determined to return to play at the Royal Albert Hall next year.
âI think thereâs enough in me to at least come back one more time. If I can get the balance right between rest in-between events, staying in shape and playing, I think I can still beat anyone out there. Itâs definitely not getting any easier, but thatâs the challenge.â
Paul Haarhuis will now take on the winner of this eveningâs semi-final clash between Sergi Bruguera and Jeremy Bates for a place in his third consecutive BlackRock Masters Tennis final on Sunday.
Elsewhere, Cedric Pioline continued his 100% record at this weekâs tournament beating BlackRock Masters Tennis newcomer Wayne Ferreira 6-3, 6-4 to win through to the semi-finals where he will face Guy Forget.
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