Tursunov beats Verdasco to reach Thailand Open final

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BANGKOK, Sep 29 (Reuters) Sixth-seed Dmitry Tursunov battled past resilient Spaniard Fernando Verdasco 7-6 4-6 6-4 to reach the final of the Thailand Open today.

In a match crammed with long rallies, there was little between the two, with handful of clumsy errors by the eighth-seeded Verdasco costing him a place in his first final of the year.

Verdsaco countered Tursunov's spin-loaded forehand drives with a string of outstanding returns, winning points from almost impossible situations.

But the big-serving Russian's consistency and venomous serves won him the match, which he admitted was one of the toughest he had played.

''When he's down, he goes for the big shots, which is surprising,'' Tursunov told a news conference.

''Most people play safe, they don't go for it like he does.'' Tursunov took a tight first set after winning the tiebreak 7-4 but Verdasco turned up the heat in the second, pulling off a series of powerful returns down the line to break the Russian at 5-4 and take the set.

''In the second set, I had a lot of opportunities but I never took them,'' said Tursunov, who blasted 12 aces in the two-hour, 28-minute match.

''Players like him have a big forehand, they're difficult to play. If I didn't make a good return, he'd always come back with a winner.'' In the deciding set, the Spaniard played some sloppy shots after losing his first service game.

His temper flared after every error, with everthing from his racket to courtside chairs and television microphones becoming victims of the Spaniard's petulance.

With Verdasco flustered, Tursunov broke him again but the Spaniard broke back and at 4-1 could have brought the scores level.

But Tursunov kept his cool as Verdasco committed more errors, with the 29-ranked Russian holding on to reach his fourth semi-final of the year.

Asked if he was confident of victory in the final, Tursunov said: ''If I don't have a heart attack like I almost did in that match, then yes.'' Tursunov will play the winner of the other semi-final between third-seeded Czech Tomas Berdych and unseeded German Benjamin Becker.

REUTERS SSC AS1806

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