Sun, Feb 26, 2012 - Page 18 News List

Tsonga, Del Potro in Open 13 semis

AP, MARSEILLE, FRANCE

Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina returns to France’s Richard Gasquet during their quarter-final match at the Open 13 tennis tournament in Marseille, France, on -Friday.

Photo: Reuters

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Juan Martin del Potro both earned the 200th win of their careers on Friday to set up a semi-final between the two at the Open 13.

The top-seeded Tsonga beat Edouard Roger-Vasselin 6-4, 7-5 in the quarter-finals, while Del Potro edged Richard Gasquet 7-5, 7-6 (5).

Tsonga served 14 aces and saved 10 break points in an all-French match.

Tsonga dropped serve in the opening game, but broke back in the sixth. He hit 18 winners to 11 for Roger-Vasselin to take the first set when his opponent netted a forehand volley.

Roger-Vasselin double-faulted at 6-5 in the next set to give Tsonga two match points. Tsonga converted the first on a forehand error from Roger-Vasselin.

“I didn’t play better than him today, but I was stronger in my head in the key moments,” said Tsonga, the 2009 champion.

Del Potro served 15 aces in a tight match that saw him win just one more point than Gasquet — 78 to 77.

The fourth-seeded Argentine led 3-1 in the last set, but Gasquet, a former top-10 player, broke back in the eighth game.

Del Potro then saved a set point at 6-5 to force a tiebreaker before clinching victory with a diving backhand volley.

“It was really close,” Del Potro said. “For a 250 tournament, it’s not like a quarter-final. This match could be a semi or a final, for sure. Now I will play Tsonga and it’s still semi-finals. You can see how tough is this tournament.”

The 2009 US Open champion whipped a forehand winner to take the first set. He saved two set points at 5-4 with a forehand winner and an ace. In the next game, Gasquet missed a smash to drop serve.

Third-seeded Janko Tipsarevic of Serbia beat Ivan Ljubicic of Croatia 6-4, 6-4, and will next play Michael Llodra, who downed qualifier Albano Olivetti 7-6 (5), 7-5 in an all-French quarter-final.

Tipsarevic did not face a break point and broke Ljubicic’s serve in the opening game of the first set before breaking for a 3-2 lead in the second.

Tsonga was the player with the most aces on the ATP Tour last season, although France has found another hard-serving player in 20-year-old Olivetti.

Olivetti lost to Llodra, but has still left an impression on the home crowd after beating Mardy Fish on Thursday.

The 2.03m tall Olivetti hit a serve of 254kph last year on the Challenger Tour, but Ivo Karlovic of Croatia still holds the world record for the fastest serve with 251kph as only performances on the ATP tour are taken into account for official records.

However, Llodra outslugged Olivetti with 14 aces to 13 on Friday, and did not face a break point.

“Michael served smartly,” Olivetti said. “He used very well the slice when serving to my backhand. He was also stronger than me on service returns.”

Olivetti netted a backhand volley at 5-5 to drop serve and Llodra converted his first match point with an ace.

The 388th-ranked Olivetti -double-faulted twice in the tiebreaker and Llodra won the first set, when Olivetti sent a backhand into the net.

“Those two double-faults cost me dearly,” Olivetti said. “That’s the reason why I lost the tiebreaker.”

Olivetti made 10 unforced errors in the first set to none for Llodra, the 2010 champion.

COPA CLARO

AP, BUENOS AIRES

Top-seeded David Ferrer of Spain easily defeated Fernando Gonzalez of Chile 6-2, 6-4 on Friday to advance to the semi-finals of the Copa Claro clay-court tournament.

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