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Berdych steps up title tilt in Montpellier


 

Originally published on: 03/02/12 11:07

Tomas Berdych motored into the quarter-finals of the Open Sud de France on Thursday as he stepped up his charge for the seventh title of his career.

The world No.7, who was beaten by Rafael Nadal in the quarter-finals of January’s Australian Open, knocked over world No.142 Florent Serra 6-0 6-2 in just 56 minutes.

The Czech faces fellow meaty ball-striker Nicolas Mahut next, and remains on course for an tantalizing final against defending champion Gael Monfils, who overcame Michael Russell 6-3 6-3.

The Montpellier tournament, an indoor event now in its second year, includes a healthy French contingent, with Gilles Simon and Richard Gasquet ensuring there are four home-grown players through to the quarter-finals.

The week’s two other ATP 250 events, in Vina del Mar and Zagreb, have seen a number of surprise results ahead of the decisive weekend.

Four-time champion Fernando Gonzalez made his long-awaited return to the tour following knee and hip troubles, but while he won his VTR Open first round match against Pere Riba, the Chilean fell to Brazil’s Joao Souza in round two. Third seed Thomaz Bellucci was also beaten, losing to Argentinean qualifier Federico Delbonis in straight sets.

In Zagreb, Ivo Karlovic and defending champion Ivan Dodig are the lone Croats waving the flag after top seed Ivan Ljubicic was beaten in the first round. Karlovic faces third seed Mikhail Youzhny for a place in the semi-finals while Dodig takes on Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis, who impressed in a 6-4 6-2 victory over Lukasz Kubot.

The former world No.8 seems to have moved on from his frantic racket-smashing episode during defeat to Stanislas Wawrinka in the second round of the Australian Open.

“I’m feeling good now. I’m happy,” said the world No.45. “I’m playing good and I think my ranking will go up slowly.”

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