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Now Ricardas Berankis has qualified for finals

Lithuanian, ranked 141st, to face Sam Querrey after ousting another seeded opponent.

July 28, 2012|By Andrew Owens
  • Ricardas Berankis advanced to the Farmers Classic final with a 7-5, 6-1 upset of sixth-seeded Marinko Matosevic at UCLA on Saturday.
Ricardas Berankis advanced to the Farmers Classic final with a 7-5, 6-1… (Stephen Dunn / Getty Images )

You won't find his name in the 38-page Farmers Classic program, but Ricardas Berankis continued his weeklong tournament run with a 7-5, 6-1 upset of sixth-seeded Marinko Matosevic in Saturday's semifinal at UCLA's L.A. Tennis Center.

In Sunday's final, Berankis will face Sam Querrey, who defeated fellow American Rajeev Ram in the other semifinal, 6-3, 7-6 (4). Querrey is seeking to win his third Farmers Classic championship in four years; he missed the 2011 tournament with an elbow injury.

Berankis, 22, has eliminated three seeded players in the tournament and is the first Lithuanian to reach an ATP Tour final. He has not dropped a set since the first round of qualifiers July 27. No qualifier has ever won a Farmers Classic championship.

"I think I realized that if I stayed this way, then I have a better chance to get through it," Berankis said of his calm demeanor on the court. "That was the main thing for me today, to stay focused and enjoy it as much as I can."

Neither Berankis nor Matosevic was able to break the other's serve until deep into the first set, when Berankis did so to take a 6-5 lead, his first of the match. He held serve on the next game to clinch the first set, and broke serve on three of four opportunities in the second set.

"I saw him playing a couple previous matches and I felt like I could get in front of his second serve and take advantage of it," Berankis said. "That's what I tried to do from the first point, and it worked."

Berankis entered the tournament as a relative unknown — he is ranked 141st in the world — and is the first qualifier to reach the Farmers Classic final since 2009, when Carsten Ball fell in the finals to Querrey. Berankis has been injury-plagued during his short professional career, and said he probably won't be 100% for another couple of months while bouncing back from a groin injury.

Querrey struggled early in the second set of his win over Ram, at one point trailing 4-1, but rebounded by breaking a game to force a tiebreaker. Querrey set the tone in the tiebreaker by breaking Ram's serve on the first point.

By holding serve the rest of the way, the break point proved to be the difference.

Querrey's berth in the championship match marked the sixth consecutive year an American has reached the final.

Berankis and Querrey will play for the championship Sunday at 1 p.m.

andrew.owens@latimes.com

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