IRIVING — The roll continued for American qualifier Denis Kudla at the Dallas Tennis Classic.The 20-year-old from Arlington, Va., won his seventh consecutive match Saturday, beating wild card and former No. 35-ranked Philipp Petzschner of Germany 7-5, 6-4 to earn a spot in Sunday’s final of the ATP Challenger event at the Four Seasons Resort & Club in Las Colinas.Kudla will play No. 5 seed and 48th-ranked Jurgen Melzer of Austria, who defeated Illya Marchenko of Ukraine 3-6, 6-4, 6-4 in the other semifinal.Kudla, ranked No. 160 in his second year as a pro, served well and returned even better on Saturday. He only lost serve twice, but broke right back in the next game both times, and he added a second break later in each set.“I kind of wake up when I get broken,” Kudla said. “I always try to play the most perfect game after I get broken. Usually, I’m pretty successful doing that. I don’t know why. I just am. Thank God, I could do it right away.”Kudla constantly kept Petzschner on his heels with hard, deep returns, and he forced the German to face 12 break points, four coming on match point in the ninth game of the second set. Petzschner saved eight break points, including all four at match point, but he only had two chances to break against Kudla and converted both times.“Returns have helped me this whole week,” said Kudla, who began the year with a career-best ranking of 136. “I stayed aggressive and I made a lot of first-serve returns, which got me into points. I knew if I stayed solid from the baseline, it would be pretty tough to lose.”Kudla clinched the victory on his sixth match point, the second on his serve in the 10th game of the set to extend his run this week.“This week, I’m actually by myself — I have no coach, nothing,” Kudla said. “I’m just relaxed. I came to this week with no pressure. I told myself, ‘If I lose the first round of quallies, just go home. No pressure.’ ”Melzer, on the other hand, felt plenty of pressure against No. 142-ranked Marchenko, who got off to a fast start, before Melzer rallied to get back in the match.“It was a dogfight.” Melzer said. “I started bad, struggling a little bit with fatigue, and I don’t know, it didn’t feel as good as the other matches. It was one of those matches you have to find a way to win. And in the end, I did. That’s basically what made me happy about it.”The 31-year-old Melzer, who reached a career-high ranking of No. 8 in 2011, came into the tournament having been knocked out in the first round at his previous three tournaments — Memphis, Acapulco and Indian Wells. Sunday will be his first final since losing to No. 12 Marin Cilic in the ATP Tour event in Zagreb, Croatia, in February.Melzer has been doing double duty this week and he will do it again Sunday. He and Petzschner will play in the doubles final as the No. 1 seeds against No. 2 seeds Eric Butorac of Rochester, Minn. and Dominic Inglot of Great Britain. Butorac and Inglot came from a set down to defeat Johan Brunstrom of Sweden and Raven Klaasen of South Africa, 4-6, 6-2, (10-6) in the semifinals.Inglot, one of the top doubles specialists in the world, is ranked No. 40 and won six doubles titles last year, including the Challenger of Dallas and the ATP Tour’s Citi Open in Washington, D.C.
(Four Seasons Resort & Club, Irving)
Mens singles semifinal
Denis Kudla, Arlington, Va., (q) d. Philipp Petzschner, Germany (wc) 7-5, 6-4; Jurgen Melzer, Austria (5) d. Illya Marchenko, Ukraine (q) 3-6, 6-4, 6-4.
Eric Butorac, Rochester, Minn., and Dominic Inglot, Great Britain d. Johan Brunstrom, Sweden, and Raven Klaasen, South Africa, 4-6, 6-2, (10-6).
Starting at 1 p.m.
Singles final: Denis Kudla, (q) vs. Jurgen Melzer (5).
Doubles final (After rest): Jurgen Melzer and Philipp Petzschner (1) vs. Eric Butorac and Dominic Inglot (2).