Paes and Dlouhy storm into title round

TOKYO: Czech Tomas Berdych stunned second seed Andy Roddick 6-7, 7-5, 7-6 to reach the final of the Japan Open on Saturday.

The ninth seed will face a player who has won 29 of his previous 30 matches in Sunday’s final in the shape of Argentine Juan Martin Del Potro.

Fifth seed Del Potro beat Frenchman Richard Gasquet 6-3, 4-6, 7-5 in the first semifinal at the $969,000 Tokyo tournament.

Roddick, one of several players still chasing a spot in the season-ending Tennis Masters Cup in Shanghai, took the first set on a tiebreak after slamming a 10th ace past Berdych.

Berdych struck back in the second, breaking Roddick’s serve in the 11th game and then restored parity by forcing the American into a wild forehand.

Roddick jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the decider but the former U.S. Open champion faltered while serving for the match at 5-3 and was made to pay.

Berdych pushed the set to another tiebreak and the Czech quickly raced to a 6-1 advantage, wrapping up proceedings on his third match point with his 17th ace.

Hot streak

Fifth seed Del Potro, who recently helped his country book its place in the Davis Cup final, took just over two hours to see off Gasquet, last year’s beaten finalist in Tokyo.

A double-fault from fourth seed Gasquet handed Del Potro a 3-2 lead and the Argentine wrapped up the first set by breaking again with a fizzing forehand down the line.

Gasquet broke early in the second before levelling the match by threading a forehand past Del Potro’s desperate lunge. But it was Del Potro who held his nerve, the 20-year-old securing his place in the final when Gasquet blazed a forehand wide.

A fifth title of the year would move Del Potro into the coveted eighth spot in the year-long rankings and in line for a place at the next month’s prestigious Masters Cup.

Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray have already qualified for the eight-man Shanghai shootout.

Top seed Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark will face Estonia’s Kaia Kanepi in the final of the women’s tournament after both won their matches on Saturday.

In doubles action, the profligate pair of Leander Paes and Lukas Dlouhy kept themselves in contention for their second consecutive ATP doubles title as the top-seeded duo reached the final on Saturday.

The Indo-Czech team defeated Robert Kendrick of America and Jarko Nieminen of Finland 6-4, 7-6(4) in one hour and 11 minutes in the semifinal of the hardcourt ATP event.

Venus meets Jankovic

At Stuttgart, Venus Williams beat third-seeded Dinara Safina 6-4, 6-2 at the Porsche Grand Prix to set up a semifinal showdown with the next No. 1, Jelena Jankovic.

Safina has powerful groundstrokes but in Williams she met an opponent who can hit just as hard and who also had more precision. The two had never played before.

“I had to work very hard because she played at 200 per cent,” Williams said after the match.

“It’s very exciting to win against a player who has had such a great year.”

Jankovic came back from a break down in each set to edge seventh-seeded Vera Zvonareva for the second time in two weeks, winning 7-6(8), 7-6(5). Jankovic is assured of being No. 1 when the new WTA Tour rankings come out on Monday.

Safina has won four titles this year and the Russian has risen to a career-high No. 3 in the rankings.

Williams won only one title this year, but it was a major one, at Wimbledon. The American is playing in her first Stuttgart tournament in 10 years and is going for the red Porsche 911 sports car given by the title sponsor to the champion.

“I love fast cars. I really hope to try it as the winner,” the sixth-seeded Williams said.

Tursunov advances

At Metz, Dmitry Tursunov moved into the semifinals of the Open de Moselle on Friday by beating Carlos Moya of Spain 6-3, 6-3. In another match Radek Stepanek defeated Eduardo Schwank of Argentina 3-6, 7-6(4), 6-4.

Fourth-seeded Paul-Henri Mathieu also advanced, hitting 12 aces to beat Janko Tipsarevic of Serbia 7-6(4), 6-3.

The results: At Tokyo: Japan Open: Men’s singles: Semifinals: Juan Martin del Potro bt Richard Gasquet 6-3, 4-6, 7-5; Tomas Berdych bt Andy Roddick 6-7(3), 7-5, 7-6(3). Women’s singles: Semifinals: Caroline Wozniacki bt Jarmila Gajdosova 6-4, 6-3; Kaia Kanepi bt Aleksandra Wozniak 6-4, 6-4. Men’s doubles: Leander Paes & Lukas Dlouhy bt Robert Kendrick & Jarko Nieminen 6-4, 7-6(4).

At Stuttgart: WTA Porsche Grand Prix: Quarterfinals: Victoria Azarenka bt Elena Dementieva 7-6(6), 3-6, 6-1; Nadia Petrova bt Li Na 6-2, 6-3; Venus Williams bt Dinara Safina 6-4, 6-2; Jelena Jankovic bt Vera Zvonareva 7-6(8), 7-6(5).

At Metz: ATP Open de Moselle: Quarterfinals: Dmitry Tursunov bt Carlos Moya 6-3, 6-3; Radek Stepanek bt Eduardo Schwank 3-6, 7-6(4), 6-4; Adrian Mannarino bt Marc Gicquel 6-4, 7-6(3); Paul-Henri Mathieu bt Janko Tipsarevic 7-6(4), 6-3. — Agencies

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