Taiwan’s Lu Yen-hsun was on Thursday eliminated from the Winston-Salem Open after being forced to withdraw with a sore back, while second-seeded Kevin Anderson of South Africa beat eighth-seeded Borna Coric of Croatia 6-2, 7-6 (7/1) to advance to the semi-finals.
American Steve Johnson advanced when Lu withdrew because of a back injury. Johnson, seeded 13th and ranked 49th, faces French qualifier Pierre-Hugues Herbert.
Lu was hurt late in the third set on Wednesday in his 7-6 (7/1), 1-6, 7-5 victory over South Korea’s Hyeon Chung. He was treated after the match and on Thursday morning, but the pain and cramping persisted during practice.
“There’s a disk that had some inflammation inside, and the inflammation got into the muscle and got it tight,” Lu said. “It was really affecting my serve. We’re all looking forward to next week [the US Open], but I’m still upset.”
“We did everything we could with the ATP [trainers]. There’s still some soreness, and I really couldn’t do anything natural. It really didn’t make sense to go on the court and play. It’s not smart,” he said.
Johnson reached his third career semi-final and second this season. The two-time NCAA champion at South California made his previous semi-final appearance three weeks ago in Washington.
“It’s never the way you want to win,” Johnson said. “Rendy’s [Lu’s nickname] a great competitor, and I was looking forward to getting a chance to play. Unfortunately, for him, his back isn’t feeling 100 percent. With the US Open right around the corner, he didn’t want to jeopardize something today for the following week. Now I just take today, and get ready for tomorrow.”
Herbert, ranked 140th, beat Pablo Carreno Busta of Spain 4-6, 7-6 (7/5), 6-2 to reach his first semi-final.
Jaziri advanced to the semi-finals in an ATP World Tour event for the first time this season and the second in his career. His previous semi-final appearance came in Moscow in 2012.
Anderson, ranked 15th, faces 88th-ranked Malek Jaziri of Tunisia, a 6-3, 6-2 winner over sixth-seeded Thomaz Bellucci of Brazil.
Anderson had 10 aces on Thursday in improving to 6-0 this season in quarter-final matches, broke the 18-year-old Coric’s serve twice and converted 85 percent of his first serves in winning the first set.
“I really played well today, especially in that first set,” Anderson said. “It was one of those sets where everything was coming off my racket nicely, I was taking care of my service games and putting myself in each return game. When I’m able to do that, I play my best and make it as tough as possible for my opponent.”
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