UMAG, Croatia (AP) Dominik Thiem of Austria and Joao Sousa of Portugal came from a set down to reach the Croatia Open final on Saturday.
Fourth-seeded Thiem upset top-seeded Gael Monfils of France 1-6, 6-3, 6-1, and Sousa knocked out second-seeded Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain 4-6, 6-2, 6-3.
Thiem recovered after a slow start to reach his second final of the year and the third in his career. He was a runner-up in Kitzbuhel last year, and won in Nice in May, also on clay.
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Monfils lost only nine points in the first set. His domination came to an end in the second set, as Thiem lowered the unforced errors and started to hit winners more often.
He broke for 3-1 and served out. In the third, the Austriand won five consecutive games from 1-1.
In his fifth career final, Sousa will attempt to win his second title, after Kuala Lumpur in 2013.
Sousa converted only four out of 19 break points during an exhausting baseline battle.
Bautista Agut won the first set by a lone break in the 10th game, saving all eight break points he faced. He failed to convert any of the additional six break chances.
Calm after losing the first set, the unseeded Sousa broke twice to win the second, forcing a decider. He won three games in a row at 3-3 to secure his second final of 2015, after Geneva in May.
”Of course I’m tired, but since I won it’s OK,” he said. ”Bautista is a good friend of mine, so we have lots of respect for each other. I feel sad that he did not make it to the finals, but tennis is like that.”
Thiem leads the head-to-head series against Sousa 2-0, from the Australian Open last year and Marseille this year.
”I have defeated Sousa twice, but it will be different conditions tomorrow,” Thiem said. ”I expect a tough match, he’s played very good this week, and is a very fit guy.”