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Local Lu moves to final of South Korea tennis event

TAIPEI--Taiwan's top ranked male tennis player Lu Yen-hsun beat good friend Danai Udomchoke of Thailand 7-6 (10), 6-3 to advance to the final of the US$100,000 Seoul Tennis Challenger in South Korea Saturday.

Frequent practice partners and longtime friends, Lu said after the semifinal match that the two players' familiarity with each other's games was bound to make it a difficult one.

Serving for the first set at 5-3, Lu fail to secure a set point and was broken, giving his Thai opponent the momentum. When Udomchoke broke Lu's serve a second time with the help of his friend's unforced errors to go up 6-5, it seemed the set was all but his.

The 29-year-old Taiwanese broke back, however, to force a tiebreaker, which he won 12-10. Lu had an easier time in the second set, when he broke a tiring Udomchoke five times.

“I'm glad that I was able to overcome difficulties to pull out the win in the end,” Lu said, who felt Udomchoke's game also lent itself better to the heavy balls being used at the tournament that do not have a lot of bounce.

Lu, currently ranked 66th in the world, will face world No. 131 Yuichi Sugita of Japan in Sunday's finals, after Sugita defeated Jimmy Wang of Taiwan 6-0, 6-3 in Saturday's other semifinal.

Lu, who is looking for his third ATP Challenger Tour title of the year, expected the match with Sugita to also be tough and said it would be decided by whoever performed better on the day.

Wang, who had not lost more than three games in any set in the tournament, said he was thrown off when his semifinal match was moved indoors because of rain in Seoul Saturday.

The world No. 159, who is trying to work his way back into the top 100 for the first time since July 2006, said he had trouble adjusting to the lights at the indoor tennis center but also praised Sugita for playing well.

By reaching the semifinals in Seoul, Wang will pick up 40 ranking points, which will move him into the top 150. His best ranking since playing regularly again on the ATP Tour is 146th, which he attained on Oct. 15.

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