French qualifier Herbert maintains marathon run
(Reuters) - Marathon man Pierre-Hugues Herbert of France delivered another Houdini-like escape to reach his first ATP World Tour final with a 3-6 7-6(5) 6-2 victory over American Steve Johnson at the Winston-Salem Open in North Carolina on Friday.
The French qualifier will meet second-seed Kevin Anderson in the final, after the South African outlasted Tunisian Malek Jaziri 6-4 6-3 in the other semi-final.
Herbert, playing his eighth match in seven days, came from a set down against the 13th-seeded Johnson and shrugged off an early break in the second to win a roller-coaster contest in one hour, 40 minutes.
Herbert, a doubles specialist who is ranked 140th in the singles, broke Johnson's serve twice in the third set and powered down 19 aces during the match to reach the final.
"I'm taking every day step by step, point by point, and trying not to think," Herbert, who needed almost two hours to beat Spaniard Pablo Carreno-Busta 4-6 7-6(5) 6-2 in the quarters, told reporters.
"Maybe that's why I'm capable of being there (in the final). I cannot believe it, really. I'm really tired."
The 49th-ranked Johnson had benefited from a walkover to reach the last four after Taiwan's Lu Yen-hsun withdrew from their quarter-final on Thursday because of a back injury.
Herbert, a 24-year-old from Alsace, will be the underdog in the final against Anderson at the Wake Forest Tennis Center on Saturday.
But if Herbert prevails, he would become the first qualifier to win an ATP World Tour title after playing nine matches since Spaniard Roberto Carretero triumphed in Hamburg in 1996. Continued...