Top-seeded Tommy Haas fought hard to defeat Russian qualifier Andrey Kuznetsov and reach the semi-finals of the Zagreb Indoors tournament on Friday, while Daniel Evans of Britain upset No. 3 seed Phillip Kohlschreiber from Germany.
Defending champion Marin Cilic also reached the semi-finals — his fourth in Zagreb — defeating fellow Croat Ivan Dodig. German qualifier Bjorn Phau beat Dudi Sela of Israel to reach his first semi-finals in nearly five years.
Haas secured a place in his first semi-final since winning Vienna in October, beating Kuznetsov 7-6 (8/6), 6-4. The players kept their serve very solid during the first set and not a single game went to deuce.
Kuznetsov saved two set points before losing the first set, but Haas broke in the opening game of the second set and kept the advantage, having to save two break points leading 2-1.
“Winning the first set in the tiebreaker was very important for the momentum,” Haas said.
This is the 13th career tournament for Haas being the top seed, but he has never reached the finals.
After reaching the quarter-finals for the first time at any ATP event, the British No. 2, Evans, went one step further on Friday by ousting Kohlschreiber 6-4, 2-6, 6-4. Evans had stepped in after Radek Stepanek withdrew from the tournament with a heel strain.
Evans has won three matches in the main draw and is now the first British player other than Andy Murray — who reached the semi-finals on a tour-level tournament — since James Ward reached the last four at Queen’s Club in London in 2011.
“It’s nice to be consistent. This is a good achievement,” said Evans, who is to face Haas in the semis.
Fifth-seeded Cilic, who triumphed in Zagreb in 2009, 2010 and last year, converted four out of five break points to beat fourth-seeded Dodig 7-5, 6-4 in just 92 minutes. Cilic now has an 18-1 record in his last five attempts here. Cilic started strong, leading 5-2 in the first set, before Dodig fought back winning three games in a row. However, Cilic soon broke again before closing the first set.
Things turned around briefly in the second set, when Dodig was up 2-1 with a serve, but Cilic broke back immediately. Proving to be too strong for his opponent, Cilic converted his second match point with a great passing shot.
“There were some ups and downs on both sides. Some great shots and some wrong decisions,” Cilic said.
Cilic is to face Phau, who beat Sela of Israel 6-4, 6-3. Sela won the three opening games, but Phau came back to win 10 of the next 12.
Phau last played an ATP semi-final in Houston in 2009.
OPEN SUD DE FRANCE
AP, MONTPELLIER, France
Top-seeded Richard Gasquet of France was hardly troubled by countryman Albano Olivetti as he won 6-4, 6-2 on Friday to reach the Open Sud de France semi-finals and stay on course to defend his title.
Although Olivetti, a qualifier, had 13 aces, he failed to force a single break-point chance on Gasquet’s serve and lost his own three times.
Gasquet is set to play third-seeded Jerzy Janowicz of Poland, who had 18 aces in a 6-2, 6-4 win against seventh-seeded Edouard Roger-Vasselin of France.
“It was a tough match. I know Edouard very well from the Tour and I knew that I had to be very good on my serve and aggressive on my returns to have a chance,” said Janowicz, who is 1-1 against Gasquet in their head-to-heads. “Gasquet will be a very difficult opponent. I know he is playing very, very well.”
No. 5 Gael Monfils of France advanced after beating Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan 6-4, 6-4 and is to play No. 6 seed Jarkko Nieminen of Finland, who won 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (7/5) against Marc Gicquel of France.
The 36-year-old Gicquel missed five break-point chances in the deciding set.
ROYAL GUARD OPEN
AP, VINA DEL MAR, Chile
Top-seeded Fabio Fognini of Italy defeated fifth-seeded Jeremy Chardy of France 6-4, 3-6, 6-2 on Friday to reach the semi-finals of the Royal Guard Open clay-court tournament in Chile.
Fognini is to face No. 3 seed Nicolas Almagro of Spain, who defeated Taro Daniel of Japan 6-2, 7-5. It was Daniel’s first ATP quarter-final match. Daniel lives in Spain, where he learned the clay-court game.
Almagro has won 12 ATP events — all on clay — and six in Latin America. He is looking for his first title in Chile.
In two other quarter-finals, Santiago Giraldo of Colombia won over Guillermo Garcia-Lopez of Spain 3-6, 6-4, 6-2, and Leonardo Mayer of Argentina beat Daniel Gimeno-Traver of Spain 3-6, 7-5, 6-3.
Rafael Nadal skipped this event and pulled out of next week’s tournament in Buenos Aires nursing a back injury and a stomach virus. He is expected to play the following week in Rio de Janeiro.