Mardy Fish and Sam Querrey entered Saturday's semifinals with the opportunity to give the Citi Open its first All-American final since 2007, when Andy Roddick beat fellow Olympian John Isner in straight sets.
But instead, Sunday afternoon's final will once again have a European flair.
Alexandr Dolgopolov and Tommy Haas will meet for the first time in the Citi Open final after besting their respective American opponents in straight sets. Ukraine native Dologopolov used his unique serve to control play against Querrey and win 6-4, 6-4, while Haas, a dual citizen of the U.S. and Germany, beat Fish 6-3, 7-5. The final will begin at 4 p.m. on Rock Creek Park's Stadium Court.
Haas first solidified his spot in the final by outserving Fish, who in addition to being a top-15 player is one of the sport's strongest servers. The two had some familiarity with one another entering the match after practicing together in Los Angeles over the years.
Haas was able to get winners on his return and control his own serves throughout the match. While the 30-year-old Fish labored in his service games, Haas dominated his.
"I think we both had to play really solid in order to beat each other," Haas said. "I think Mardy probably has a slight edge on the serve ... so I knew if I get some opportunity on the second serve, I'm going to have to take as many as I can and try to put some pressure on him, which I think I did very well throughout the whole match."
Dolgopolov used his serve against Querrey to similar effect.
"[Dolgopolov's] serve is so strange," Querrey said. "It's got so much spin on it and it's tough to just step up and take a good crack at it. I had a tough time reading it, so that made it difficult to really step up and kind of drive it."
Querrey entered the semifinal on a seven-match winning streak and recently won the Farmers Classic, so Dolgopolov knew it would be important to break his confidence early. He did so by winning 86 percent of his first-serve points and minimizing unforced errors.
"I'm pretty calm on the court," he said. "I try to just concentrate on the point."
Fish and Querrey both had a chance to become the first American to win the Open since Roddick in 2007. But now it is certain a European will take home the trophy — and a $1.05 million purse — Sunday night.
In a way, Dolgopolov and Haas represent opposite ends of the spectrum. Dolgopolov, 23, is younger, craftier and more unpredictable, but the 34-year-old Haas is steady and strong, a mentality that came with years of experience that his opponent lacks.
"I still have problems sometimes keeping my emotions in check," Haas said, "[but] when I was younger and even crazier, I think that could turn into two, three, four games of just playing bad tennis and I think that could cost me the match."
Having only seen one another in an exhibition match earlier this year, neither finalist knows what to expect.
"I need to show my best game and attack and make a lot of winners," Dolgopolov. "I think it's going to be a tight game. It depends how it goes in the important moments."
"I've seen Dolgopolov play, obviously, so I know what to expect at times," Haas said. "He could hit one shot that's incredibly unbelievable and then maybe miss one or two, so you don't really get much rhythm."
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