Top-seeded Rafael Nadal reached the semi-finals of the Rio Open, showing no problems with a sore back in defeating Joao Sousa of Portugal 6-1, 6-0 on Friday.
No. 1-ranked Nadal, in his first tournament since losing the Australian Open final, is to face fellow Spaniard Pablo Andujar in the semi-finals. Andjuar ripped through Tommy Robredo of Spain 6-1, 6-1.
In the other semi-final, second-seeded David Ferrer was to meet unseeded Alexandr Dolgopolov. Ferrer defeated Thomaz Bellucci of Brazil 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 and Dolgopolov of Ukraine advanced against third-seeded Fabio Fognini 6-1, 6-1.
Ferrer has won 21 ATP singles titles and will be the favorite to reach the final today against Nadal with 61 titles — 13 Grand Slams.
Nadal tweaked his back warming up for the final in Melbourne, eventually losing to Stanislas Wawrinka in a match he was favored to win. He took several weeks off and is using Rio to tune up for three months of clay-court play leading to the French Open.
In the other late quarter-final match, No. 4 Tommy Robredo of Spain faced Pablo Andujar.
In the combined ATP-WTA event, top-seeded Klara Zakopalova of the Czech Republic reached the semi-finals, defeating Katarzyna Piter of Poland 6-4, 6-0.
Zakopalova was to face Brazilian Teliana Pereira, who defeated Irina-Camelia Begu of Romania 6-4, 6-4.
Pereira is a home favorite and the first Brazilian woman in 23 years to crack the WTA top 100.
Japan’s Kurumi Nara also advanced. She won the first set and was leading the second when Spain’s Lourdes Dominguez Lino withdrew with a left leg injury. Nara is to face Nastassja Burnett of Italy, who defeated Paula Ormaechea of Argentina 5-7, 6-2, 7-5.
AP, MARSEILLE, France
Top-seeded Richard Gasquet of France and defending champion Jo-Wilfried Tsonga both advanced to the Open 13 semi-finals on Friday.
After Gasquet beat fifth-seeded Ivan Dodig of Croatia 7-5, 6-3, Tsonga followed up with a 6-7 (3/7), 6-2, 6-2 win against sixth-seeded Edouard Roger-Vasselin in an all-French match.
Gasquet, ranked ninth, broke Dodig twice in the first set and once more in the second set, where he saved three break points of his own.
He sealed the win on his own serve when Dodig’s forehand from the back of the court was wide.
Gasquet is to next face third-seeded Ernests Gulbis of Latvia, who won 6-3, 7-6 (7/1) against No. 8 Nicolas Mahut of France to reach his second consecutive semi-final.
Tsonga, who improved to 4-0 against Roger-Vasselin, is scheduled to face the winner of the last match between Frenchman Michael Llodra and Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff.
DELRAY BEACH OPEN
AFP, DELRAY BEACH, Florida
US second seed John Isner rallied on Friday to reach the ATP Delray Beach Open semi-finals.
Big-serving Isner outlasted US qualifier Rhyne Williams 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, while Marin Cilic, a seventh seed from Croatia, dispatched Russia’s Teymuraz Gabashvili 6-2, 6-3.
The other semi-final is to send South African fourth seed Kevin Anderson against 142nd-ranked US qualifier Steve Johnson.