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Youzhny Stops Local Favourite For SF Berth

Kitzbühel, Austria

Frenchman Julien Benneteau© Gepa/OsterauerFrench lucky loser Julien Benneteau is through to his first semi-final of 2009.

Seventh-seeded Russian Mikhail Youzhny recorded his third straight win in five clay-court meetings against Austrian favourite and No. 2 seed Jurgen Melzer at the Interwetten Austrian Open Kitzbühel on Thursday.

Youzhny booked his place in a second semi-final (or better) on the 2009 ATP World Tour season, after beating Melzer 6-4, 6-4 in 88 minutes. Youzhny hit five aces and won 42 of 63 service points to notch his 16th win of the year (16-11 record). Melzer, who celebrates his 28th birthday on Friday, dropped to 10-15 this year.

World No. 46 Youzhny, who reached the Munich final (l. to Berdych) earlier this month, will attempt to reach the 10th ATP World Tour final (4-5 record) of his career against Guillermo Garcia-Lopez of Spain.

Garcia-Lopez reversed last year’s second-round loss to Victor Hanescu with a 6-2, 6-2 victory over the third-seeded Romanian in 82 minutes. The 25 year old takes his place in a first ATP World Tour semi-final since July 2008 at Gstaad (l. to Andreev). He also evens out his 2009 season tally to 10-10, which includes quarter-final exits at Johannesburg (l. to Gil), Delray Beach (l. to Korolev) and Houston (l. to Hewitt).

World No. 32 Hanescu could only convert one of six break point opportunities in the pair’s third tour-level meeting. He has now lost in three ATP World Tour quarter-finals this year (also Doha, Casablanca).

French lucky loser Julien Benneteau knocked out another Austrian hope, wild card entry Daniel Koellerer, 6-2, 6-7(5), 6-0 in two hours and 31 minutes on Center Court.

Benneteau, who hit nine aces and won 67 per cent of service points, advanced to his first ATP World Tour semi-final since October 2008 at Lyon (l. to Soderling in the final). The 27 year old has also reached two quarter-finals at Rotterdam (l. to Monfils) and Marseille (l. to Simon) this season and amassed an 11-12 match record.

Koellerer, Austria’s No. 2-ranked player behind Melzer at No. 81 in the South African Airways 2009 ATP Rankings, dropped to 5-6 this year.

Spaniard Oscar Hernandez knocked out qualifier Juan Ignacio Chela of Argentina 6-4, 6-4 in the pair’s first meeting since February 2004 at Acapulco. The match lasted one hour and 35 minutes. Hernandez improved to 11-14 on the season.

The second-seeded Brazilian duo of Marcelo Melo and Andre Sa stayed on course for the title defence as they defeated Simon Aspelin and Paul Hanley 6-3, 6-4 in the only doubles match Thursday. Melo and Sa, who face Christopher Kas and Alexander Peya in the semi-finals, won the title last year by defeating Austrians Julian Knowle and Melzer.

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