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No. 2 Seed Verdasco, No. 4 Seed Berdych Win; Safin Out

Bastad, Sweden

Potito Starace won ATP main draw back-to-back matches for the first time since mid-April.Arne ForsellPotito Starace won ATP main draw back-to-back matches for the first time since mid-April.

Second seed Fernando Verdasco was granted a place in the quarterfinals of the Catella Swedish Open when his Swedish wild card opponent Ervin Eleskovic retired with a right thigh injury when trailing 0-6, 2-4 in the second round in Bastad on Wednesday.

The 24-year-old Verdasco is currently enjoying a career-high rank of No. 13 in the South African Airways ATP Rankings on the strength of a 26-16 season that has seen him reach the quarterfinals at Valencia and Masters Series Hamburg and his first grass court final at Nottingham (l. to Karlovic).

The Spaniard is through to the quarterfinals at Bastad for the first time in three visits, after having fallen in the second round in 2004 and last year. He goes on to face Swedish qualifier Bjorn Rehnquist, who defeated countryman and wild card Michal Ryderstedt 6-3, 7-5.

World No. 226 Rehnquist, 30, is through to his first ATP quarterfinal after recording just his first win of the season against Przysiezny in the first round this week. His best previous result at Bastad was a second round exit in 2003 (l. to Zabaleta).

Also on Monday, Potito Starace (pictured) won ATP main draw back-to-back matches for the first time since mid-April with a 7-6(3), 3-6, 6-4 victory over Wimbledon semifinalist Marat Safin.

Despite facing 11 aces and winning three fewer points in total than his opponent, the 27-year-old Starace found a way to record his first victory over Safin since losing to him in five sets at Roland Garros four years ago.

Safin, who rose 35 places up to No. 40 in the South African Airways ATP Rankings after his Wimbledon run, was chasing his third quarterfinal appearance of the season. He also fell in the second round at Bastad on his debut and only previous event appearance in 1998.

World No. 58 Starace, who is making his debut at Bastad, was a quarterfinalist at Valencia, Buenos Aires and Acapulco earlier in the season.

Starace next will face fourth-seeded Czech Tomas Berdych, who fired 12 aces and converted two of six break points as he defeated the 33-year-old Swede Thomas Johansson 7-6(2), 6-2.

World No. 23 Berdych, who was a finalist in Bastad on his event debut in 2005 (l. to Nadal), is through to his third quarterfinal this season, after reaching the semifinals at the Sony Ericsson Open in Miami (l. to Nadal) and the quarterfinals in Sydney (l. to Guccione).


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