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Baghdatis Beats del Potro; Qualifier Istomin Upsets Gasquet

Sydney, Australia

Istomin© Getty ImagesDenis Istomin has only dropped one set in six matches this week.

Marcos Baghdatis closed on a second appearance in the Apia International Sydney final on Thursday night as he ousted top seed Juan Martin del Potro 7-6(7), 6-4 in the quarter-finals. The Cypriot won his fourth ATP World Tour title in Sydney in 2010 (d. Gasquet).

"I played some great tennis today," said Baghdatis. "[I'm] happy the way I'm playing. It's a great victory for me. I know I can beat anybody.  I've beaten the best before. I think if I continue working on this aggressive play and the way I played today, I'm going to win more matches and [beat] bigger opponents."

Former World No. 4 del Potro served for the first set at 5-4, and held two set points at 6-4 in the ensuing tie-break but failed to convert. After fighting back to clinch the opener, Baghdatis broke del Potro in the seventh game of the second set to claim victory in one hour and 40 minutes.

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"I think Marcos played really well in important moments, and I had a chance in the first set and I didn't take it," said del Potro. "When you lose every chance and the opponent is like Marcos, you will lose. At the end of the match, he was completely confident with his game and made a lot of winners with the backhand and forehand. [It] was really tough."

The 26-year-old Baghdatis opened his 2012 campaign with a quarter-final effort at the Brisbane International (l. to Murray) last week. He is bidding to reach his first ATP World Tour final since finishing runner-up at the Malaysian Open, Kuala Lumpur last September (l. to Tipsarevic).

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In the semi-finals Baghdatis will face Frenchman Julien Benneteau, who converted five of 13 break point opportunities to record a late-night 6-2, 6-4 victory over Alex Bogomolov Jr. of Russia.

Qualifier Denis Istomin extended his impressive run in Sydney, knocking out third seed and 2010 runner-up Richard Gasquet 6-4, 7-6(4). The Uzbekistani has only dropped one set in his six matches this week. He broke serve three times from eight opportunities as he dispatched the No. 18-ranked Gasquet in one hour and 51 minutes. The 25 year old is through to his first ATP World Tour semi-final since October 2010, when he reached the last four at the Kremlin Cup in Moscow (l. to Baghdatis).

For a place in his second ATP World Tour final, World No. 67 Istomin will face qualifier Jarkko Nieminen after the Finn beat another qualifier, Bobby Reynolds, 6-3, 6-3 in 67 minutes. Former World No. 13 Nieminen reached the Sydney final three years ago, defeating then-World No. 3 Novak Djokovic in the semi-finals before falling to David Nalbandian.

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