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Mathieu, Gonzalez Advance to Semifinals

Munich, Germany

Fernando Gonzalez© Thomas Exler Fernando Gonzalez in Munich

Moroccan qualifier Younes El Aynaoui reached his first ATP-level quarterfinal since ATP Masters Series Madrid in October 2003 at the BMW Open by FWU AG on Thursday.

The 36-year-old El Aynaoui, currently No. 295 in the South African Airways Rankings from a career-high No. 14 (Nov. 3, 2003), knocked out seventh-seeded Belgian Steve Darcis 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 in one hour and 39 minutes. He hit seven aces and saved four of five break points.

El Aynaoui will next face Argentine teenager Juan Martin del Potro, who won back-to-back matches for the first time this season when he defeated No. 4 seed Igor Andreev of Russia, 1-6, 6-0, 6-4.

The 19-year-old del Potro has made one career appearance in an ATP-level semifinal, in 2007 at Adelaide. He will be playing in his first quarterfinal since last June at Nottingham, where he fell to eventual champion Ivo Karlovic.

Russian wild card Marat Safin struck 12 aces past Michael Berrer of Germany in a 7-6(4), 6-7(5), 6-3 victory in two hours and 41 minutes. Safin led 5-3 in the second set tie-break, but managed to secure a single break of serve in the final set at 2-2.

The 28-year-old is now 6-8 on the season and will look to advance to his first ATP semifinal since February 2007 on Friday against No. 2 seed Fernando Gonzalez (pictured) . Safin lost to Lleyton Hewitt in the Las Vegas semifinals last year.

Gonzalez battled to a third straight career win over Kristof Vliegen of Belgium, with a 1-6, 7-5, 6-3 victory in one hour and 51 minutes on Center Court. Vliegen served for the match at 5-4 in the second set.

Prior to the start of play, one minute of silence was observed to honor former tournament director and distinguished ATP official Rudi Berger, who sadly passed away on August 15, 2007.

The full centre court crowd, tournament director Patrik K�hnen, ATP and Tournament officials, as well as the players of the opening match of the day, Safin and Berrer, arose to paid tribute to Berger, as the sun came out at the very same moment at the Iphitos club.

 

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