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Saturday, Oct. 4, 2008

Del Potro upsets Ferrer in quarters


Staff writer

Argentina's Juan Martin Del Potro sent top seed and defending champion David Ferrer crashing out in the quarterfinals of the Japan Open on Friday, while American Andy Roddick continued his successful tour of Asia with a comfortable 6-3, 6-4 win over Serbia's Viktor Troicki.

Del Potro broke Ferrer's serve three times as the Spaniard skewed shots wildly off-target throughout the first set, and the world No. 12 turned the screw in the second to close out the match 6-1, 7-5. The win earns Del Potro a semifinal clash with Kei Nishikori's third-round conqueror, Richard Gasquet, who beat German Rainer Schuettler 6-3, 6-2 later in the day.

Roddick, who won last week's China Open, will square off against Tomas Berdych, after the Czech dispatched Chile's Fernando Gonzalez 6-0, 6-4.

Ferrer recovered from his first-set mauling by Del Potro to trade punches throughout the second, until the Argentine broke in the eighth game to serve for the match at 5-3.

Ferrer immediately hit back to tie the set at 5-5, but Del Potro dug deep to break again and compound a miserable month for the world No. 5 following his opening-round exit in China.

"I tried, but Juan Martin is very confident and I am not surprised at all," Ferrer said after the match. "He served very well in the important moments, and he has been winning a lot of matches. But for me it was the best match in one month, and that is very important for me."

In contrast, 20-year-old Del Potro has enjoyed a rich vein of form since the summer, winning an amazing four straight tournaments before reaching the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open last month.

"My game and mind have changed a lot. I have improved a lot, and I don't know exactly if there is one reason. I did many things to change my game, and this is the result," he said.

"Ferrer is a very good player, and until the final ball you never know. When you play against good players, you have got to be focused. If you are winning easily against the No. 5 in the world, it isn't normal. But I was prepared for everything."

Gasquet, who was never seriously troubled by world No. 32 Schuettler, knows he will have to be on top of his game to find a way past the in-form Argentine.

"He won four tournaments and did well at the U.S. Open and Davis Cup," Gasquet said. "He is very young, but he is a very good player. After Nadal and Federer, he is the best."

Roddick wasted no time in establishing a foothold against Troicki, who qualified for the quarterfinals after Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga retired through injury while one set up on Thursday.

The former U.S. Open champion raced into a three-game lead that he never relinquished in the first set, before repeating the trick with two early breaks in the second. Troicki broke back to halt Roddick's procession, but the American would not be shackled for long as he finished off his opponent with a ferocious smash to clinch the match.

After starting the week with a hard-fought win over Czech Ivo Minar that went to three tiebreaks, Roddick appears to be hitting his stride.

"That was good," he said. "It was probably the best I've hit the ball this week. Overall I think I played the points pretty well.

"I definitely feel like I can get through the weekend if I can play well enough. I didn't feel great in my first match, but now I feel fine. I feel like I have gotten better as the week has progressed.

"Del Potro has probably been in better form so I don't know if that has any significance. I don't rate any chances until you get to the final, but if I play OK then hopefully I have a good chance tomorrow."

Wozniacki advances

The Associated Press

In the WTA event, top-seeded Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark coasted to a 6-4, 6-1 victory over seventh-seeded Tamarine Tanasugarn of Thailand to reach the semifinals of the Japan Open.

Wozniacki will face Slovakia's Jarmila Gajdosova, who is in the draw as a lucky loser. Gajdosova beat the Czech Republic's Klara Zakopalova 7-5, 7-5.

The other semifinal will be between No. 5 Kaia Kanepi of Estonia, who beat Russia's Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 7-6 (7-4), 7-6 (7-1), and No. 8 Aleksandra Wozniak of Canada, who downed Australia's Samantha Stosur 7-5, 6-3.



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