Rafael Nadal upped his current win streak to nine matches today after a brisk 6-2, 6-3 win over Mikhail Kukushkin to advance to the semifinals at the PTT Thailand Open in Bangkok.
“I’m happy with how my serve was, especially today. I came here with best motivation to try to be in the final,” said Nadal who lost just two points on first serve.
In the semifinals on Saturday, Nadal will meet Spanish countryman Guillermo Garcia-Lopez who shocked fourth-seeded Ernests Gulbis 7-6, 4-6, 6-3.
In the earlier semifinal, Finn Jarkko Nieminen meets Benjamin Becker. Nieminen eased past Jurgen Melzer 6-3, 7-6 while Becker took out Daniel Brands 6-4, 6-2.
“I’m 29 years old and have been doing the same things for a long time, so it takes a while to implement changes into my game but I think I am serving better than ever now,” said Nieminen. “I’m feeling very good and it’s very satisfying to get through to the semi-finals here.”
Upsets ruled in Kuala Lumpur where the tournament lost two seeds. Top seeded Robin Soderling was stunned by Andrei Golubev 6-3, 6-2 and third-seeded Tomas Berdych was ousted by fifth-seeded David Ferrer 4-6, 7-5, 6-4.
“He played really well,” said Soderling. “Maybe I was not at my best. He played much better than me, but I wish I could have played a little bit better. There are some big tournaments coming up and my form is good; I’ve played pretty well for a while now. So I just have to try and forget about this match, re-focus and try to play well in Beijing and Shanghai.”
Mikhail Youhzny also advanced over Marcos Baghdatis 6-7, 7-5, 6-1 and in a battle of two qualifiers, Igor Andreev got the better of Canadian 19-year-old Milos Raonic 6-1, 3-6, 6-3.
In the semifinals on Saturday, Youhzny plays Andreev, Golubev faces Ferrer.
The final is set at the WTA Toray Pan Pacific in Tokyo where World No. 2 Caroline Wozniacki will meet Elena Dementieva for the title. Earlier Friday Wozniacki outlasted Victoria Azarenka 6-2, 6-7(3), 6-4. Dementieva earned her berth by avenging a French Open semifinal loss to Francesca Schiavone, beating the Italian 6-4, 7-5.
“I’ve had a great run the last couple of months,” Wozniacki said after nearly blowing a 5-0 third set lead. “I’m feeling confident, but I know there’s a very tough opponent I’ll have to face tomorrow.”
Wozniacki and Dementieva are tied 3-3 head-to-head. The Dane won their only 2010 meeting in a third-set tiebreaker in New Haven.
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