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Finals Contenders Tsonga, Berdych Fire Into SFs

Beijing, China

Berdych© Getty ImagesTomas Berdych has a 45-18 season record.

Two Barclays ATP World Tour Finals contenders, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Tomas Berdych, will come face-to-face on Saturday in the China Open semi-finals.

Top seed Tsonga proved to be too strong for former World No. 1 Juan Carlos Ferrero, beating the Spaniard 6-3, 6-4 on Friday. Tsonga hit nine aces and won 74 per cent of his service points for victory in 71 minutes.

"I'm surprised to have played like this," said World No. 7 Tsonga, who is spending his 76th week in the Top 10. "That was just amazing. Everything was working. I'm just very happy to go through this round, because it's never easy to play against this guy. Tomorrow will be exciting for sure.  It's going to be another match [against Berdych]. We have a lot to win tomorrow, you know. Both of us have to win tomorrow for the [Barclays ATP World Tour Finals]. I think it's going to be a good match."

Earlier in the day, Berdych swept past former World No. 7 Fernando Verdasco of Spain 6-1, 6-0 in 66 minutes. The third seed lost the opening game and is now 6-1 lifetime on hard courts against Verdasco. Berdych started the week at No. 8 in the Battle for London, on 2,350 South African Airways 2011 ATP Year-To-Date Rankings points, and has yet to drop a set in his three matches. With his lower-ranked Finals rivals losing early in Beijing and at the Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships in Tokyo, Berdych continues to add valuable points with four spots left up for grabs in the English capital.

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"I felt really good on the court and played really well," said Berdych. "Hard court is much more suitable for my game style. I can play more aggressive, I can give him much more pressure, less pace on the court, and then he starts to do more mistakes, more unforced errors. It's the game what I want to play; that's why the result was how was it. London is really too far ahead. I want to be ready for my semi-final tomorrow, and that's it. I'm not thinking about any other points or anything or qualifying for London."

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Ivan Ljubicic, the 32-year-old Croatian, continued his mastery over Mikhail Youzhny with a 7-6(4), 6-7(4), 6-2 in two hours and 52 minutes. Having reached the Moselle Open final (l. to Tsonga) two weeks ago, the World No. 26 is now 7-1 lifetime against Youzhny and through to his third ATP World Tour semi-final of the season.

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"I felt like if I was feeling the ball a little bit better today. I could have won much it more easier, because I felt he was struggling from the beginning," Ljubicic said. "But my shots just were not there, and I had to end up just pushing the ball in and running and trying to make him miss as much as possible. That was the only thing I could do for basically set and a half, too. In the third, I kind of let it go a little bit more and tried to take initiative in the rallies here and there. Not too much, but just kind of to change the rhythm a little bit. I guess he was tired as well in the third set, and it worked out well for me."

Ljubicic will meet his friend, doubles partner and countryman, Marin Cilic, on Saturday. Cilic battled past Kevin Anderson, ranked six places lower than Cilic at No. 31 in the South African Airways ATP Rankings, 7-6(4), 4-6, 6-1 in two hours and 24 minutes.

"I think we played against each other this year in Wimbledon first round, and Ivan won that match," said Cilic. "But I believe I'm playing well at this moment. I watched his match and he was playing really well and got through that match really well. I think definitely tomorrow is going to be interesting and tough match for both of us. I think he's again hungry to win and playing well. For me, it would mean a lot to come back to the final again in Beijing and try to look for my title."

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