Berdych overcomes Karlovic to reaches Thai semis

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BANGKOK, Sep 29 (Reuters) Third-seeded Czech Tomas Berdych survived a torrent of aces to beat Ivo Karlovic 7-5 6-4 and reach the last four at the Thailand Open.

In a game high on power but low on rallies, Berdych capitalised on some sloppy play by the big-serving Croat, breaking the seventh seed once in each set to advance to his fourth semi-final of the year yesterday.

Sixth-seeded Russian Dmitry Tursunov survived a scare to beat Taiwanese wildcard Wang Yeu-tzuoo 4-6 6-2 6-4 and set up a semi-final with Fernando Verdasco after the Spaniard's 4-6 7-6 6-4 win over unseeded Frenchman Nicolas Mahut.

In a fiercely contested match, Mahut took the first set and was on the verge of victory in the second when he broke the eighth-seeded Spaniard at 5-4.

But Verdasco battled back to force a tiebreak, where he overpowered Mahut 7-2 before sealing victory in the decider with some neat backhands and stinging forehand drives from the backcourt.

Despite a display of lethal serving from the 2.08 metre Karlovic, which yielded 16 aces, Berdych was the better of the two, serving well and piling pressure on the seventh-seed with some impressive groundstrokes.

He broke Karlovic at 5-5 in the first set and 2-2 in the second, each time prompting brief spells of petulant racket-throwing.

GREAT SERVES ''It was a particularly difficult match, he hits it hard, there isn't a lot of rhythm, but great serves,'' Berdych told reporters.

''It's not just the first serve but the second is tough too, he's slicing it, spinning it, making the ball bounce high.

''Somehow, my chance came and I made the break.'' Berdych will meet Benjamin Becker in the semis after he won an all-German contest with unseeded Dominik Meffert 7-6 7-5.

The 228-ranked Meffert had not won a match on the tour this year before this tournament but he gave Becker a stern test and refused to let him dictate the match, which lasted almost two hours.

Tursunov lost his first set and hit back to take the second but Wang, appearing in only his second career quarter-final, battled hard throughout the decider and frustrated the Russian with a stream of solid returns.

''It was a difficult match. I could have easily lost,'' said Tursunov, the world number 29, who won his second career title in Indianapolis in July.

REUTERS PDS HS1043

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