In Rotterdam, 2013 winner and top seed Juan Martin del Potro was surprised by the hot-handed Ernests Gulbis 6-3, 6-4 on Friday in the quarterfinals.
Gulbis, who’s had a history of running either hot or cold, has again caught fire this week after wins over Grigor Dimitrov and now the former US Open champion.
“My ambition this year is to reach the Top 10,” said Gulbis. “It is a big goal. I did well in the 250s, winning two titles, but I need to do better in the Masters 1000s and go deeper in the Grand Slams.”
Del Potro was still nursing an left wrist injured that required treatment during the match.
Gulbis will now battle Tomas Berdych in the semifinals. The Czech went the distance to oust Jerzy Janowicz 6-7, 6-2, 6-4.
“It was a tough match, especially from the beginning when I did not feel comfortable on the court,” said Berdych. “Jerzy plays aggressive and really fast, taking some of the control of the game from me. I didn’t feel that good on the court, but I found my rhythm and hit the ball cleanly after the first set.”
Andy Murray’s wildcard run in Rotterdam also ended. The reigning Wimbledon champion was bounced by Marin Cilic 6-3, 6-4.
“It was the first time I have played three matches in a row since the surgery [in late September],” said Murray. “So that has to be a positive. I didn’t get off to a good start in the first set, but he served extremely well throughout the match. I created a lot of opportunities to break serve, but I could not convert my chances.”
Cilic will take an 8-match win streak into tomorrow’s match against Igor Sijsling who became the first Dutch semifinalist in Rotterdam since Raemon Sluiter in 2003. Sijsling defeated Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-2, 2-6, 6-1 in just 75 minutes.
In Memphis, top seed Kei Nishikori overcame a slow start to turn away Alex Bogomolov 3-6, 6-3, 6-2. “It wasn’t easy today,” Nishikori said. “My tennis level is not quite 100% yet, so I hope I can get better. I have a lot of confidence and my goal is to win the tournament.”
Nishikori now plays Michael Russell in the semifinals. The 35-year-old upset Lleyton Hewitt 6-3, 7-6 to advance to just his third career ATP semifinal. Russell has never reached a Tour level final.
In the other semi, Rendy Lu will face the Ivo Karlovic/Jack Sock winner.
On the clay in Buenos Aires, Fabio Fognini faces 2009 tournament champion Tommy Robredo in one semi. The Italian Fognini is now 22-1 on clay since the French Open! In the other top seed David Ferrer will play the winner of the Nicolas Almagro-Jeremy Chardy quarter.
On the women’s tour in Doha, Petra Kvitova’s troubles continued. After a first round loss at the Australian Open, the former Wimbledon champion fell to former No. 1 Jelena Jankovic 6-1, 6-3.
Simona Halep, Agnieszka Radwanska and Angelique Kerber were also winner on a lopsided quarterfinal Friday. Kerber will now play Jankovic in the semis, Radwanska meets Halep.
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