Somdev in semi-finals of South African Open

Johannesburg, Feb 5 (PTI) Commonwealth and Asian Gamesgold medallist Somdev Devvarman advanced to the semi-final ofthe South African Open after he fought back from a set downto beat local hope Rik de Voest.

The 25-year-old Indian star triumphed 3-6, 7-6, 6-1 aftera 138-minute battle at the Montecasino entertainment centrehere yesterday.

With this victory, Somdev made amends for his last year''souting in the ATP World Tour event here where he waseliminated in straight sets by Spain''s David Ferrer at thequarter-final stage.

A couple of early third-set service breaks and Somdev wason his way. The victory moved the Indian within two matches ofa USD 76,500 first prize and 250 ATP World Tour points.

Somdev broke serve in the first game and led 3-1 beforeDe Voest rode on two service breaks, which helped the SouthAfrican win five games on the trot and take the opening set.

The second set, too, saw Somdev take an early 4-1 leadbefore he dropped serve in the seventh game, which helped DeVoest to force a tiebreaker.

As Somdev surrendered an early three-point advantage, theSouth African levelled via a backhand cross-court shot, butlike in the first set, the Indian didn''t buckle under pressureon this occasion and took the duel to the third set.

After engrossing contests in the first two, the third setturned out to be a one-sided affair with Somdev holding allaces.

"Rik is a great player whom I got on top of only in theclosing stages and now I must face another South African (Izakvan der Merwe) for a place in the final," said Somdev.

"We share the same coach and practise a lot together sowe know pretty well how the other plays. It is great to reachthe last four of such a prestigious tournament as the SouthAfrican Open." PTI AH

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