By John Delong
Yen-Hsun Lu has had a solid career on the ATP World Tour, but at age 31 he is still seeking his first tour-level tournament title.
Lu took another step in that direction on Thursday afternoon at the Winston-Salem Open by beating Andreas Seppi 6-4, 6-4 in the day’s first quarterfinal match on Center Court.
The No. 9 seed from Chinese Taipei, who came into the tournament at No. 38 in the latest ATP World Tour rankings, got early breaks in each set and held the upper hand throughout the match.
He will meet Lukas Rosol in the semifinals on Friday, after Rosol advanced in a walkover when top-seeded John Isner was forced to withdraw with an ankle injury.
Lu wasn’t looking too far down the road when asked about winning his first career title, but he did acknowledge that it would be special. He reached his first career final earlier this year at Auckland, losing to Isner.
“It would be great to win,” Lu said. “I don’t think too much now, still a long way to go. But of course it’s everybody’s dream to win an ATP title and for me, also I am chasing for all my career. Everybody wants to win something and I would be happy and after I retire it would be a good memory. If not, it’s not. But I’m just trying to create a possibility to make it to the final and try to win. But still, there is a long way to go.”
Lu also reached the semis at Memphis earlier this year and won a Challenger event in his native country last month. He came to the WSO after making the third round in Cincinnati last week, with a second-round win over Tomas Berdych.
A quarterfinalist here at the WSO last year, Lu beat Blaz Rola 7-6 (4), 6-3 in the second round after receiving a first-round bye, and then beat Marcel Granollers 6-1, 6-2 on Wednesday in the third round.
“Of course, it is not as important as next week but I’m really happy with what I have done here,” Lu said. “I feel the whole week I didn’t feel the pressure to have to win something. I’m trying to look at every match like practice (for the US Open) and do what I need to do on the court, and I’ve been pretty successful.”
Lu was particularly pleased with his serve against Seppi. He had seven aces and won 79 percent of his first-serve points, and was never broken. He saved five break points during the course of the match.
“My serve was very helpful on the key points,” he said. “At 30-all or deuce, I came through with big serves to be safe and holding serve. I always have confidence on the court, but with my serve today I didn’t have to worry too much.”
He’ll face a big server on Friday in Rosol. The two have met once previously, with Lu winning 6-3, 6-2 in Bangkok last year.
“He’s a really powerful player, big serve,” Lu said of Rosol. “I remember playing him last year indoors. I had a great match. But tomorrow’s different conditions, outdoors. He’s won a couple matches so he’s in top form. So I’ll just try to do what I need to do and keep my serve and try to stay with him and find a chance to break his serve. This is the strategy. But tomorrow’s another day and I have to do my best for tomorrow.”