Sat, May 03, 2014 - Page 19 News List

Berdych, Raonic into Portugal quarters

WOMEN’S DRAW:Svetlana Kuznetsova beat Canadian Eugenie Bouchard to reach the semi-finals and is to play fellow Russian Elena Vesnina, who beat Roberta Vinci

AFP, OEIRAS, Portugal

Tomas Berdych returns during his match against Somdev Devvarman at the Portugal Open in Estoril on Friday.

Photo: EPA

Tomas Berdych and Milos Raonic both posted 6-3, 6-2 scorelines to reach the quarter-finals of the ATP-WTA Portugal Open on Thursday.

Top seed Berdych won in 75 minutes over Indian Somdev Devverman, while Raonic took eight minutes fewer as the Canadian second seed stepped up his claycourt game ahead of the French Open to beat Uruguay’s Pablo Cuevas.

Berdych finished with six aces and three breaks of serve as the world No. 7 played for the first time since a third-round Monte Carlo loss last month.

The Czech is to face Argentina’s Leonardo Mayer for a place in the semi-finals. Berdych is playing as a wild card and said that the chance to get matches on clay is welcome after his early Monte Carlo exit.

“When I got the last-minute call, it was a great opportunity to come play some more matches and get back into the clay rhythm. I want to be ready for the big events which are coming,” Berdych said. “It was a solid start, but we are still in the early stages of the tournament. This was just my first step and I need to keep going. I want to focus on hitting the ball as cleanly as possible.”

In front of a sold-out May 1 holiday crowd, Raonic managed what compatriot Eugenie Bouchard could not as the second seed lost to Svetlana Kuznetsova in a quarter-final in the women’s draw 6-4, 6-1.

Raonic, a career-best ninth, managed just six aces; his opponent, ranked 161, never earned a break point.

The winner lost just 11 points on serve, five of those from double-faults. Raonic is scheduled to play Carlos Berlocq of Argentina next.

“I’m happy with this result and with the level I was able to produce,” Raonic said. “This was my first match here and they can be tricky. It can sometimes be difficult to find early momentum, but overall I look back and I’m happy with how it has gone so far. My main goal this season is to do better on clay than I have in the past.”

Portugal’s Gastao Elias duplicated his quarter-final last year with an upset of Spanish fourth seed Guillermo Garcia-Lopez 6-4, 3-6, 6-2.

The No. 179 was to line up against Victor Hanescu yesterday after the Romanian beat Pablo Carreno Busta of Spain 6-3, 4-6, 6-3.

In the women’s draw, double Grand Slam title winner and seventh seed Kuznetsova reached only her third WTA semi-final in as many seasons with a 6-4, 6-1 upset win over Bouchard.

The Russian won 11 of the final 12 games.

Kuznetsova, ranked 29th, last played a semi-final last year in Moscow, losing to Samantha Stosur. Before that, her previous appearance in a final four came in January 2012 in Auckland.

The Russian played a quarter-final here a year ago after last competing in Portugal in 2002.

“It’s nice to be back in the semis,” the 2009 French Open winner and 2004 US Open champion said. “My clay season is certainly starting better than my hardcourt.”

Kuznetsova came to Portugal after reaching the quarter-finals last week in Stuttgart and had trained briefly with Bouchard earlier in the week.

“I had seen her play some matches, but the training gave me a chance to see her game — and the same for her,” the 28-year-old said. “It helped me figure out how to play her.”

Kuznetsova got off to a poor start, trailing 4-1 in the opening set before closing the gap with breaks in the seventh and ninth games against her 20-year-old opponent, an Australian Open semi-finalist in January.

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