Herbert Squeaks Past Olivetti at Orleans Challenger

by John on September 26, 2013

P Herbert

Frenchman Pierre-Hugues Herbert edged fellow countryman and doubles partner Albano Olivetti 6-7 (6), 6-3, 7-6 (8) Thursday afternoon in a marathon second-round serving duel at the Orleans Challenger in France. There was just one break of service in the 2-hour, 35-minute contest and that was by Herbert in the eighth game of the second set. Olivetti, No. 2 on the ledger of “Top Guns of Fast Serve” with a fastest recorded serve of 160 mph posted last year, had 30 aces to 11 for his opponent. But Herbert, who won 87 percent of the points on his first serve, earned 10 more points (91 to 81) on his first and second serves than the 6-foot-8 Olivetti. That was really the difference in the nip-and-tuck match, as each won 30 points while returning serve. Serving, clearly, was dominant on the day. The 22-year-old Herbert, currently ranked a career-high No. 199, played his first main-draw Tour match last week at Metz after winning his two qualifying matches. He lost to German Florian Mayer in the first round. The No. 235-ranked Olivetti, a wild card at Metz, lost in the second round to Benjamin Becker. Tuesday Olivetti routed Sergiy Stakhovsky, the No. 7 seed, en route to today’s encounter. Stakhovsky is best known for knocking out Roger Federer in the second round at Wimbledon this year. Olivetti, who will turn 22 in November, had 15 aces in the first set and captured his second mini-break of the tiebreaker with Herbert serving at 6-7 to take the opener. Herbert got the aforementioned service break in the second set and held serve to even the match. Olivetti, up 1-0 in the decider, squandered his only opportunity to bust the match open in the second game when he failed to win any of three break points against Herbert’s serve. Herbert steadied the rest of the way, scored a crucial mini-break at 8-8 in the tiebreaker and then held to seal the win. Olivetti saved one of two break points, while Herbert saved four of four. Herbert takes on No. 2 seed Michael Llodra in the quarterfinals tomorrow.

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