Paes-Stepanek duo storms into the semifinals

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Tennis / Tomas Berdych beats Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, remains in the hunt; Roger Federer makes the semis

CALLING THE SHOTS:Radek Stepanek and Leander Paes haven't dropped a set en route to the semifinals of the World Tour Finals.— Photo: AP
CALLING THE SHOTS:Radek Stepanek and Leander Paes haven't dropped a set en route to the semifinals of the World Tour Finals.— Photo: AP

India’s Leander Paes and his Czech partner Radek Stepanek booked their place in the semifinals of the ATP Tour Finals after defeating Spanish duo Marcel Granollers and Marc Lopez 7-5, 6-4 on Thursday.

Paes and Stepanek, seeded third, are the first doubles pair to qualify from Group A after winning both their matches without dropping a set at London's O2 Arena.

Paes and Stepanek, who now have a dead rubber in their final match against top seeds Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan, are making their first appearance together at the Tour Finals as they bid to end the Indian’s nightmare run in the final of the season-ending event.

Roger Federer advanced to the semifinals with a match to spare. The six-time champion earned his second straight victory beating David Ferrer 6-4, 7-6(5).

But it wasn’t so easy for the 17-time Grand Slam champion, who improved his record to 14-0 against Ferrer.

Two days after controlling his opening match against Janko Tipsarevic with a dominating serve, Federer faced 10 break points on Thursday, and saved nine of them.

Meanwhile, Tomas Berdych remains in the hunt for a place in the singles semifinals after the Czech fifth seed defeated France’s Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 7-5, 3-6, 6-1 on Wednesday.

Berdych now has to beat world No. 1 Novak Djokovic on Friday to book his place in the last four of the prestigious season-ending event.

The former Wimbledon finalist’s victory also means Djokovic isn’t certain to qualify yet even though the Serb maintained his 100 per cent record with a win over Murray earlier on Wednesday.


Tsonga isn’t definitely eliminated but he would need to beat Murray in straight sets and hope Berdych loses by the same margin against Djokovic to advance.

Berdych had beaten Tsonga in both of their meetings this year, including the final of the Stockholm Open, and the 27-year-old was a deserved winner again after a blistering finish.

Tsonga hasn’t defeated a top-eight ranked player this year and once again the flamboyant Frenchman was too inconsistent on the big points.

Berdych had a chance to take control of the first set when he earned three break points in the seventh game, but Tsonga saved all three with a series of booming serves and powerful forehands.

Tsonga didn’t make the most of his escape though as a series of wayward groundstrokes gifted Berdych the first break at 6-5 and the Czech gleefully seized the chance to serve out the set with an ace.

Berdych saved two break points at 1-2 in the second set, yet Tsonga was beginning to find some momentum and he put pressure on the Czech into one more mistake to move 3-1 ahead. Tsonga briefly wobbled when he served for the set, but he held on to send the match to a decider.

Berdych was under pressure again in the first game of the final set, this time digging deep to save two break points, and he made the most of his reprieve with a break for a 3-1 lead.

Suddenly the tide had turned back in Berdych’s favour and he sealed the win in emphatic fashion with a second break.

The results:

Singles: Group B: Roger Federer bt David Ferrer 6-4, 7-6(5); Group A: Tomas Berdych bt Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 7-5, 3-6, 6-1. 

Doubles: Group A: Leander Paes & Radek Stepanek bt Marcel Granollers & Marc Lopez 7-5, 6-4. — Agencies

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