Top seeds eye title

By RACHAEL BORICH

IPSWICH'S Robert Smeets has endured a longer journey than his fellow semi-finalists at this week's US$10,000 Kia International men's tennis tournament at Rockhampton's Victoria Park.

After working through the qualifying rounds Smeets, 19, reached the semi-finals after a 6-2 7-6 quarter-final win over Japan's Yaoki Ishii yesterday.

The top seed faces a tough semifinal opponent in South Australia's Shannon Nettle.

After battling injuries earlier in the season, Nettle fought back to reach the next round with a 6-2 5-7 6-2 quarter-final victory over fourth seed Sadik Kadir.

While Nettle is expected to use his skills at the nett, Smeets will fire away from the baseline.

Today's semi-finals start at 10am with New South Wales third seed Luke Bourgeois and sixth seed, South Australia's Joel Kerley first on court.

The final starts at 10am tomorrow.

n Meanwhile, at the Kia International women's tournament in Mackay yesterday 2001 champion Christina Wheeler, of Victoria, progressed to today's semi-finals.

Wheeler next meets top seed, Argentina's Maria-Jose Argeri.

The 2001 champion booked a semi-final start after her hardfought 6-2 3-6 6-1 win over Sweden's Aleksandra Srndovic while Argeri reached the next round with a 7-5 7-6 win over gutsy New South Wales player Emily Hewson.

Featuring in the other semi-final are Cindy Watson and Casey Dellacqua.

Watson, the eighth seed, progressed with a 6-4 7-6 win over second seed, the Tony Rochecoached Sophie Ferguson while Dellacqua scored a 7-5 6-2 quarter final win over Queensland qualifier Shannon Golds.

The women's tour arrives in Rockhampton tomorrow with the start of the qualifying rounds.



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