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Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships: Tomas Berdych eases into last four

Dubai: Last year’s Dubai Duty Free Men’s Open losing finalist Tomas Berdych eased his way to a semi-final against Philipp Kohlschreiber on Friday with a 6-4, 6-3 win over Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

Earlier in the day, defending champion Novak Djokovic of Serbia was handed a walkover after Russia’s Mikhail Youzhny withdrew from their quarter-final due to illness.

World No 2 Djokovic will now play the winner of Thursday’s late game between record five-time event winner Roger Federer of Switzerland and Slovakia’s Lukas Rosol in Friday’s semi-final.

Berdych, who had ended on the losing side to Novak Djokovic last year, was in complete control throughout the one hour and 28 minutes he spent on Centre Court against his French opponent.

Tsonga hit a forehand wide for Berdych to break serve for the only time and take the first set 6-4 in 35 minutes. In the second set, suddenly the Czech pulled away from his opponent with the scores locked at 3-3 and took the next three games to wrap up set and match.

Earlier, world No 26 Kohlschreiber, 30, broke Jaziri’s serve in games two and eight to take the first set with ease.

He then broke in the eighth game of the second set to secure victory in just over an hour.

“I think I had a very solid performance today,” said Kohlschreiber, who overcame Thiemo de Bakker of the Netherlands and Italy’s Andreas Seppi by identical 6-3, 6-3 margins in the first and second rounds.

“My key was to move him around a lot. That’s what I’m doing pretty well, moving my opponent, trying to play with good angles, and I was very solid from the baseline. I took the chances and tried to be aggressive.”

In five previous appearances in Dubai, Kohlscrheiber has only progressed to the second round on three occasions. But against wildcard Jaziri, he made his path to the latter stages of the competition sound all too easy.

“He was playing quite defensively, especially on the backhand,” said the 2012 Wimbledon quarter-finalist. “His second serve wasn’t that huge a weapon. He high-bounced but slow, so I tried to be aggressive from the start, I had a good start in the first set and that gave me a lot of confidence.”

In the semi-final, Kohlschreiber will face much more formidable opponents in Tsonga or Berdych. Against Tsonga, he has only won once in six previous meetings while in his clashes with Berdych he has won just one in seven in the past.

“They are both very good players. They hit very hard,” he said. “It’s going to be very tough.”

ORDER OF PLAY

Today

Centre Court (Start at 2.30pm) Daniel Nestor/Nenad Zimonjic vs Daniel Brands/Florian Mayer.

(Start at 5pm) Tomas Berdych vs Philipp Kohlschreiber.

(Start at 7pm) Novak Djokovic vs Roger Federer OR Lukas Rosol; Tomasz Bednarek/Lukas Dlouhy vs Rohan Bopanna/Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi.