Ryan Russell unleashes a backhand on his way to an emphatic 6-2, 6-1 quarter-final victory over Chile's Jaime Fillol at the Liguanea Club, New Kingston yesterday. - Rudolph Brown
By Tym Glaser, Associate Editor Sport
RYAN Russell, playing his first serious men's event, sizzled into the semi-finals of the Cable & Wireless/ITF Men's Futures tournament at the Liguanea Club, New Kingston, yesterday.
The 17-year-old routed Chilean Jaime Fillol 6-2, 6-1 in a quarter-final encounter which became so lopsided it was hard to gauge if Russell was playing superbly or if his opponent ran out of heart and gas.
In the end, it was probably a combination of both.
"I played pretty well and won a few lucky points which gave me the first set," Russell said after the match. "Then I think the heat started getting to him as I don't think he's used to it and his game started breaking down.
"I saw a weakness on his backhand side and I started working on that," he said.
Left-handed Russell said he had struggled in recent times against fellow lefties but that wasn't apparent yesterday against the South American southpaw.
In the fourth game of the match, Russell got the decisive break on his fifth break point and cruised through the remainder of the set.
Fillol fought back in the first game of the second set and held three break points but Russell's swinging, kicking serves, compact baseline game and tigerish commitment to running down every ball saw him hold serve and break the Chilean's resolve. He won the next four games before Fillol belatedly got on the scoresheet.
Russell's semi-final opponent will be lucky loser Ezequiel Nastari, a scrambling Venezuelan, who cruised past Trinidad's Shane Stone with a minimum of fuss 6-0, 6-1.
The top half of the draw pits American Gavin Sontag against Argentinian Nicolas Todero in the other semi.
Sontag was pushed hard by Croatia's Mirko Pehar yesterday before claiming a 6-4, 7-5 win while Todero, ranked 768 in the world, got by Mexican Miguel Gallardo 6-3, 6-2.
Sontag and Todero will start proceedings today at 10:00 with the second semi between Russell and Nastari to follow immediately after.