France’s Gilles Simon overwhelmed Tomas Berdych in a scintillating final set yesterday as he marched into the Shanghai Masters semi-finals with his second top-10 scalp in three days.
The world No. 29 won 7-6 (7/4), 4-6, 6-0 to enter his second successive semi-final, after also making the last four in Tokyo last week, where he lost to Milos Raonic.
Simon, 29, is yet to win a Masters title, but he is in a rich vein of form and overpowered Australian Open champion Stan Wawrinka on Wednesday in Shanghai.
Berdych, meanwhile, reached last week’s China Open final and he arrived at the Shanghai quarter-finals without even facing a break point.
However, the tournament’s sixth seed, ranked seventh in the world, was given a rude awakening when Simon broke his serve in the first game.
However, the Czech appeared well in control of his serving game thereafter, firing 12 aces throughout the set.
Berdych broke back in the third game to draw level and an increasingly frustrated Simon shouted at himself after misfiring in a tense game, which brought the scores to 6-6.
His bout of self-criticism appeared to work, as the former world No. 6 raced to a 5-2 lead in the tiebreak and sealed the set with a powerful cross-court groundstroke.
The pair were evenly matched in the second set, but with the scores at 4-4, Berdych got his chance to break as he tussled with Simon on deuce.
Berdych drew boos when he appeared to berate a ball-girl for being slow to bring his towel. He then seized the break and closed the following game, and the set, with an ace.
However, he went missing in the decider as Simon took it effortlessly 6-0, helped by Berdych’s uncharacteristic double fault to hand over the second break, which prompted gasps from the crowd.
“I feel my tennis is coming back from the last, I would say, two months,” Simon said after his victory.
“I’m finding a better rhythm. I feel also physically stronger. I have less injuries. So, I mean, it’s a bit easier to go on the court,” he said.
“But still, Tomas is a great player. He’s always hard to beat. I think I almost played the perfect match today,” Simon added.
The 29-year-old will fancy his chances against Feliciano Lopez of Spain in the semi-finals.
The world No. 21 beat Mikhail Youzhny of Russia 5-7, 6-4, 6-4 in a thrilling match between two 30-something players.
Lopez appeared to be heading for defeat a set down and losing 4-2 in the second set, but he came back brilliantly, breaking Youzhny in his final two service games to set up a decider.
The 33-year-old was then forced to endure a horror game as he appeared in control, serving for the match at 5-3 ahead.
His 32-year-old opponent forced two break points before sealing the game at his third attempt in the most unlikely circumstances — with Lopez double-faulting.
However, Lopez quickly regained his composure to win the next game and overcome his 35th-ranked opponent.
A host of big names are already out, including Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray.
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