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Llodra To Face Paire In SFs; Gasquet Advances

Montpellier, France

Llodra© Open Sud de FranceMichael Llodra is bidding to reach the final for the second time.

World No. 62 Michael Llodra reached his first ATP World Tour semi-final of the season on Friday as he dismissed Jan Hajek 7-6(3), 6-1 at the Open Sud de France in Montpellier. The Frenchman hit 11 aces and converted three of his nine break points for victory in 70 minutes.

The 32-year-old Llodra has an 11-9 event record, boosted by having knocked out World No. 9 Janko Tipsarevic in the second round on Thursday. He finished runner-up at this ATP World Tour 250 indoor tournament four years ago, when it was staged in Lyon (l. to Ljubicic).

Llodra goes onto face eighth seed Benoit Paire, who beat fourth seed Gilles Simon 7-5, 7-6(4) in an all-French contest. There were five breaks of serve in the match that lasted one hour and 47 minutes. It was Paire’s second win over Simon, having also beaten the Nice native two years ago in Rotterdam, also an indoor event.

The 23-year-old Paire is through to his second ATP World Tour semi-final of the season, having also reached the last four at the Aircel Chennai Open last month (l. to Bautista Agut).

Third seed Richard Gasquet won an all-French encounter for the second straight day, defeating sixth-seeded countryman Julien Benneteau 6-1, 4-6, 6-1. Gasquet, who beat Gael Monfils in three sets on Thursday, broke Benneteau seven times to advance in one hour and 40 minutes.

The 10th-ranked Gasquet is bidding to win his second title at the ATP World Tour 250 event, having triumphed in 2006 when it was held in Lyon. He began the year by capturing the Qatar ExxonMobil Open trophy in Doha (d. Davydenko). In the semi-finals, Gasquet plays Jarkko Nieminen.

“I am very happy to be at this stage of the competition especially after defeating two tough players like Gael and Julien,” said Gasquet. “I didn't play my best tennis today. Perhaps I was a bit too passive but I got the job done. Tomorrow, I know it will be difficult. I had a very tough match against him last year in Bangkok but I will give everything to try to reach my first final here in Montpellier.” 

Nieminen edged Sergiy Stakhovsky 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(2) in one hour and 49 minutes. The 31-year-old Finn was a quarter-finalist at the Apia International Sydney in January and improved to a 7-3 match record on the season.

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