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Top Seed Verdasco, No. 6 Cilic, No. 8 Fish Reach SFs

New Haven, CT, U.S.A.

Marin Cilic converted four of nine break points.© Getty ImagesMarin Cilic converted four of nine break points.

Top seeded Spaniard Fernando Verdasco advanced to his fourth ATP semifinal of the season with a 6-4, 7-6(4) victory over German Mischa Zverev at Pilot Pen Tennis in New Haven on Thursday.

The 24-year-old left-hander, who was a quarterfinalist in 2005 (l. to Lopez) and 2007 (l. to Blake), converted four of seven break points and made 86% of first serves to record his fifth straight victory over a German and reach his first semifinal in New Haven after 1 hr., 18 min.

Verdasco, ranked No. 13, goes on to face eighth-seeded American Mardy Fish in the semifinals on Friday.

"I think I played really good all the match and I happy how I feel and how I play," said Verdasco. "I think tomorrow the semifinals against Fish is going to be a hard match."

The Madrid resident has a 2-1 record in ATP semifinals this season, going on to win his second career ATP title in Umag (d. Andreev) and reach the final in Nottingham (l. to Karlovic), but falling at the semifinal stage in Bastad (l. to Berdych). Also a quarterfinalist at Valencia (l. to Ferrer) and Masters Series Hamburg (l. to Federer), Verdasco improves to a 37-20 match record for the season.

World No. 110 Zverev, who celebrates his 21st birthday on Friday, was bidding to reach his maiden ATP semifinal and now drops to 12-17 for the season.

Fish defeated lucky loser and countryman Jesse Levine 6-3, 7-6(4) to set up the meeting with Verdasco. The Tampa, Florida resident was dominant on serve, firing 12 aces and wining 75% of points, however he was only able to convert on one of 14 break point chances leading to a close encounter that lasted 1 hr., 39 min.

"I looked at the stats. [I was] one for 14 on break points. That was obviously frustrating," said Fish. "But I'm real happy with the way that I kind of stayed in there, forgot about that, forgot about all the tough games I lost on the return, kind of jumped back in my serve without thinking about the missed opportunities."

World No. 35 Fish is bidding to reach his second final in New Haven after finishing runner-up to James Blake last year. The 6'2'' right-hander now improves to 25-19 for the season, highlighted by a runners-up finish at the ATP Masters Series Indian Wells (l. to Djokovic) and a semifinal exit Los Angeles (l. to del Potro).

Looking ahead to the clash with Verdasco, Fish commented: "He's played some great tennis this year. He's got his ranking higher than it's ever been. His year seems to be his push to get in the Top 10 for him. He's a guy with a huge, huge forehand. In my opinion, one of the top five forehands in the game. I'll certainly try to keep it away from there as much as I can."

In the other half of the draw, Slovenian qualifier Luka Gregorc (pictured right), No. 434 in the South African Airways ATP Rankings, stunned Italian No. 7 seed Andreas Seppi 4-6, 6-4, 7-5 to reach his maiden ATP semifinal. Seppi now drops to a 26-23 record for the season; he was bidding to reach his second ATP semifinal of the season.

The 24-year-old Gregorc fired 14 aces and managed to convert five of 10 break point chances to win just his eighth career ATP match (8-7 record). The Boca Raton, Florida resident has sent seeds tumbling on his way through the draw, knocking out No. 14 Jose Acasuso in the second round and No. 2 Ivo Karlovic in the third round on Wednesday.

"I've been playing well coming into the week," said Gregorc. "So I was very confident. I started off well in the qualifying, getting through some tough matches. One thing led to the other. I'm still in. I'm not surprised actually. I've been working hard and I've been playing well lately. This is kind of a little payback for all the hard work."

The right-hander goes on to face No. 6 seed Marin Cilic (pictured), a 6-3, 6-2 winner over No. 4 Igor Andreev.

The 19-year-old Cilic converted four of nine break points while saving all three break points he faced in the one hour and 23 minute match. Although Cilic only had a 42% first serve mark, he won 84% of first serve points compared to Andreev's 53%.

Cilic will be making his third appearance in an ATP semifinal this season (Chennai, Nottingham) and he will attempt to reach his first career ATP final.
 

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