Vasek Pospisil had it easy against an ailing opponent while Milos Raonic did it tough as a pair of Canadians claimed two of the four semi-final spots at the Montreal Masters on Friday.
Pospisil, a wild card entry who came straight from a Challenger title in his native Vancouver, needed only three games and 20 minutes when Russian veteran Nikolay Davydenko retired trailing 3-0 due to breathing difficulties from bronchitis.
Raonic, the 11th seed and top Canadian, had to struggle for almost two and a half hours to thwart the upset plans of Latvian Ernests Gulbis, winning 7-6 (7-3), 4-6, 6-4 with ten aces Novak Djokovic, top seed and winner of the last two editions, will be bidding for the semis against Frenchman Richard Gasquet - a re-run of the 2012 final - while Rafael Nadal continues his comeback to tennis after seven weeks of rest as he plays Australian qualifier Marinko Matosevic.
The Canadian pair will square off on Saturday in a crowd-pleasing clash for a nation whose tennis hopes are suddenly on the rise after reaching an upcoming Davis Cup semi-final in September against former champion Serbia.
Davydenko didn’t want to talk of his health situation, saying only: “I was already feeling sick on Monday but I managed to play my matches. But I started feeling worse yesterday.
“I went out to see how I could play but it was no use, that’s why I decide to stop as I was not feeling any better.” Pospisil came to the court for that abbreviated match after his first career top 10 victory, a third-round defeat of Tomas Berdych.
The 71st-ranked Canadian now finds himself getting ready for the match of his life against his compatriot.
Raonic is beginning to show progress after three months with coach Ivan Ljubicic, and will be playing his first semi-final at the Masters 1000 level.
For Pospisil, his performance this week has been close to unbelievable and will force the Canadian set to rise substantially from his 71st ranking to re-prioritise his 2013 goals.
“Top 50 was a life-long goal of mine, the goal that I set at the beginning of this year. Now I’m there already.
“So my goals are already changing, I’ll try to reset them a little bit and try to keep moving up. This is a huge week for me (ranking) points-wise. I’m just excited and hope to use the confidence I have to keep playing well.” Raonic, who beat Juan Del Potro in the third round, won a 53-minute opening set against Gulbis but dropped the second as the Latvian squared the contest.
In the third, Raonic went up a break for 3-1 but immediately gave it back before re-breaking in the final game to seize the hard-fought win.
He will be playing his first semi-final since late April on clay in Barcelona.