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Benneteau Mounts Stunning Rally For SF Berth

Cincinnati, U.S.A.

Benneteau© Getty ImagesJulien Benneteau advanced to his first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 semi-final on Friday in Cincinnati.

Julien Benneteau rallied past World No. 4 Stan Wawrinka 1-6, 6-1, 6-2 for his first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 semi-final berth at the Western & Southern Open on Friday.

Benneteau became the first Frenchman to advance to the Cincinnati semis since Arnaud Clement in 2000, hammering nine aces and breaking serve on four occasions for the win in 80 minutes. He earned his second Top 10 win of the year, following a triumph over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga en route to the quarter-finals at the BNP Paribas Open.

"It's my best result in a Masters 1000," said Benneteau. "The Masters 1000 are very, very difficult tournaments because the cut is like 40, 45. It's top 45 players in the world on every tournament at this level. You don't have a lot of opportunities to make a very big result."

The former World No. 26 relinquished the first set in just 27 minutes, but broke immediately for a 2-0 lead in the second and never looked back, reeling off 12 of 15 games behind an impressive display of defence and guile. Benneteau won 25 of 37 points between five and nine shots, firing 19 winners.

The unseeded Benneteau, who saved one match point in a first-round win over Blaz Rola, denied Wawrinka a second semi-final in Cincinnati in the past three years (l. to Federer in 2012).

Benneteau's defence was on full display late in the second set when he tracked down a Wawrinka lob, eventually grabbing the decisive break.

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Benneteau analysed the shot: "At the beginning I didn't think I can get the lob, and then I saw, yeah, I can get it. I was thinking to play it through the legs. At the last moment I said, 'no'. I tried to put the ball in play and we see. My lob is okay. The ball is a little bit short, but after that it's a little bit luck because I just anticipated the right side and I saw the court open in front of me and then I made it."

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