Top-seeded Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic and two-time champion Marin Cilic of Croatia reached the Chennai Open quarter-finals in contrasting style on Thursday.
Berdych disposed of local hope Somdev Devvarman 6-3, 6-1, while Cilic rallied to beat Sergiy Stakhovsky of Ukraine 4-6, 6-2, 6-3 in a tough 110-minute encounter.
Also, fifth-seeded Benoit Paire of France cruised into the last eight with a 6-1, 6-0 defeat of Dudi Sela of Israel, while Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut ended the hopes of German Matthias Bachinger 7-6 (7/4), 6-3.
Berdych, who had a bye in the first round, dominated 2009 finalist Devvarman from early on and did not face a break point.
Berdych, who will play Agut in the next round, said his excellent results last season made him work only harder in the off-season to enjoy a better year ahead.
“It was a long season and a very good one, too,” Berdych said of last year, when he won two titles and reached the US Open semi-finals. “The Davis Cup triumph was incredible. I played a lot in the year and was busier than ever. During the off-season, I managed to train hard and prepare for the new season.”
Berdych said he was happy to have notched a fluent win to start the new season.
“The first match of a new season is always tough and so I’m very happy with the way it went. For me, the good thing was that my game was at my best. And I am happy that I played at a level that I wanted to,” he said.
Cilic and Stakhovsky were involved in some long rallies and it looked an even contest till a warning for time violation seemed to upset Cilic, the champion in 2009 and 2010.
He dropped serve immediately and the smooth-stroking Stakhovsky capitalized on the break to go one set up.
However, Cilic came back strongly to lead 3-0 in the second set and douse Stakhovsky’s hopes of an upset win.
The lanky Croatian produced 15 aces, including nine in the deciding set, to set up a quarterfinal clash with Paire.
“Sergiy played the first set really well and it took time to adjust to new conditions as it was my first match,” Cilic said. “I didn’t play here last year and it’s good to be back here.”