Berdych knocks out Taiwan’s Lu in quarter-finals

AFP, BANGKOK

Sat, Sep 28, 2013 - Page 20

Lu Yen-hsun was knocked out in the quarter-finals of the Thailand Open yesterday as world No. 6 Tomas Berdych battled his way into the semi-finals, slamming 20 aces in a hard-fought victory over the Taiwanese.

The top seed was made to sweat for his 7-6 (9-7), 6-4 win against Lu, who has lost all 10 of his career quarter-finals.

“Credit to the opponent,” said the big-serving Czech, playing in Bangkok for the first time in half a decade. “Sometimes I felt like I was in PlayStation. He was hitting so fast, so low and making so many winners. It was a tough match and I’m happy to go through. He played well. It proves how tough tennis is these days.”

Berdych needed a string of aces to claim his victory in just over an hour and three-quarters, coming back from a break down in the opening set. He only lost serve once while breaking his opponent three times.

Berdych last won a trophy in October last year in Stockholm and remains the only member of the ATP tour top 10 without a trophy this year.

He next faces world No. 14 Gilles Simon, who overcame a back injury and jet lag to struggle past Dutchman Igor Sijsling.

The Frenchman, seeded fourth and winner of the Bangkok event in 2009, called for the trainer after the opening game of the final set, but recovered to take the match 6-4, 5-7, 6-4.

“My back is not in a great shape now. The injury is a bit of everything,” said Simon, who is bidding to reach his third Thailand final, having lost to compatriot Richard Gasquet last year. “I’ll just take treatment and hope to be fit for Saturday. I have to be 100 percent if I want to win.”

Despite early starts in the Thai capital, Simon notched his 300th career win on Thursday over Australian Bernard Tomic.

Simon traveled to Thailand on the back of taking the title in Metz, France, last weekend, where he beat compatriot Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, but the Frenchman, who has won five of seven matches against Berdych, has been fighting jet lag all week.

Simon claimed victory in just under two-and-a-half hours with his eighth ace of the match after saving a slew of break points from the attacking Sijsling.

He won the opening set in 54 minutes, prevailing in a battle of classy ground strokes between the two men.

Sijsling rallied to claim the second set and looked to be in control early in the third when Simon was forced to take his on-court treatment, but the Frenchman regained his composure with a break for 4-3 and took the victory three games later on his second match point.

MALAYSIAN OPEN

AFP, KUALA LUMPUR

Thirtysomething seeds Jurgen Melzer and Julien Benneteau advanced yesterday into the semi-finals of the Malaysian Open.

Melzer, seeded fourth, came away with a routine 6-3, 6-2 victory over Argentine Federico Delbonis, 22, while Benneteau outplayed 25-year-old fellow Frenchman Adrian Mannarino 6-3, 6-3.

Top seed David Ferrer, 31, was knocked out 6-2, 7-6 (8/6) by unseeded Joao Sousa later yesterday, while second seed Stanislas Wawrinka was taking on 30-year-old Dmitry Tursunov in the remaining quarter-final in Kuala Lumpur.

“It’s not too strange to see 30-year-olds in the semi-finals as there are many of us in the top 100,” fifth-seeded Benneteau, 31, said. “It is not about your physical well-being, but how you hit the ball. Melzer and I are almost the same age, but we are still fighting for titles.”

Melzer, 32, who had mixed results with his service after earning three aces against four double faults, paid tribute to his younger brother, Gerald, who gave him tips on a foe he was meeting for the first time.

“Sure I called him and asked for his advice since he beat Delbonis before. I asked him for advice and whatever he said was true. So it looks like my little brother is, tactically, a very wise player,” Melzer said after his 79-minute match.

Additional reporting by staff writer