World No. 8 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga saved five match points in a breathtaking third set tiebreak to edge out Australian Bernard Tomic on Friday and qualify for the Marseille Open semi-finals.
The third-seeded Frenchman, who lost the first set, eventually grabbed the tie-break 12-10 to seal a 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 victory after two hours and five minutes.
Tsonga, who had won his only previous encounter with the 46th-ranked Tomic, made the most of his opportunities to beat the 21-year-old Australian, one of the most exciting youngsters in tennis.
“I found the way to stay in this match and it’s not just a miracle. He will tell you that I played well on these points,” Tsonga told reporters.
“In moments like these, you need to be brave to overcome your fear and I, personally, have to play more aggressive,” he said.
Tsonga will face Gilles Simon in the semi-finals after his compatriot upset title holder Juan Martin del Potro 6-4, 6-3.
Simon did not drop his serve once and was in total control while the former US Open winner tried some ineffective sliced backhands.
After grabbing the first set in 36 minutes, the 14th-ranked Simon quickly led 4-1 in the second and managed to resist the second seed’s late surge.
Top seed Tomas Berdych had to work harder to move past seventh-seeded Jerzy Janowicz, who made a name for himself when he reached the Paris Masters final in November after entering the main draw from the qualifiers.
Berdych will meet 119th-ranked Russian Dmitry Tursunov, a former top 20 player, who defeated Gilles Muller of Luxembourg 7-6 (9/7), 1-6, 7-5.
Tursunov, a semi-finalist at the tournament two years ago, withstood 27 aces from Muller and a second-set thrashing where he dropped serve three times.
“Playing in qualifying for the third tournament this year, I really didn’t expect this,” Tursunov said.
“I wasn’t really looking that far ahead and I think that kind of helped me, I was just trying to play one match at a time,” he said.
AP, BUENOS AIRES
Defending champion David Ferrer advanced to the semi-finals of the Copa Claro clay-court tournament on Friday with a 6-2, 6-1 victory over Fabio Fognini of Italy.
The top-seeded Ferrer will face fellow Spaniard Tommy Robredo, who beat Julian Reister of Germany 6-3, 6-2.
“It will be tough match,” Ferrer said. “Each time I have played Tommy it has been a close match and I will have to play at my best to beat him.”
Ferrer holds a 5-2 edge in head-to-head matches, including the past two.
No. 2 Nicolas Almagro of Spain became the third Spaniard to reach the semi-finals, defeating Federico Delbonis of Argentina 6-1, 7-6 (7/3).
The possibility of four Spaniards in the semis ended when No. 3 seed Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland defeated Albert Ramos of Spain 7-6 (7/4), 6-4 to set up a match with Almagro.
With his No. 4 ranking, Ferrer is a strong favorite to win his second tournament of the season. He defeated Almagro in last year’s final.
Ferrer won the Heineken Open last month in Auckland, New Zealand.
Seven-time French Open champion Rafael Nadal skipped this event on his Latin American tour, after making his comeback from a long-term knee injury by playing in Chile and Brazil.