Russian Dmitry Tursunov fired 14 aces to beat Taiwan's Wang Yeu-tzuoo 4-6, 6-2, 6-4 on Friday, putting him through to the Thailand Open semifinals. Sixth seed Tursunov will be playing to reach his second ATP final this season, the fourth of his career, when he faces eighth seed Fernando Verdasco on Saturday.
The Spaniard, nicknamed 'Hot Sauce' for his fiery forehand, outlasted Frenchman Nicolas Mahut 4-6, 7-6 (7/2), 6-4 in their quarterfinal. Tursunov, who played Davis Cup doubles for Russia at the weekend before flying to Asia, won his second title in July at Indianapolis.
He is defending champion's points this week from his breakthrough title a year ago in Mumbai. But he came to Thailand nursing three straight first-round defeats, including one to Tim Henman in the US Open last month.
The California-based number 29 said playing as the favourite was harder than being a young pro on the rise. "I always have the pressure to perform," said Tursunov, now an established mid-level player. "He is a good player, young and has nothing to lose.
Verdasco and Mahut, who beat fourth seed Tommy Haas on Thursday, worked through the longest match of the tournament -- 2 hours, 23 minutes -- before the Spaniard emerged the winner. Mahut took the opener but Verdasco managed to claw it back for a set apiece as he raced to a 5-1 tiebreak lead in the third. The 71st-ranked Mahut, who reached grass finals this season at Queen's and Newport, tallied a dozen aces and lost serve only three times.
Venus limps into semifinals
Seoul: Venus Williams overcame some sloppy tennis and a gammy right leg to advance to the semifinals of the Korea Open with a 6-2, 6-3 win over Marta Domachowska of Poland on Friday. Top seed Williams, who had trouble landing her first serves and struggled with her groundstrokes, was broken three times by the world No. 190 Domachowska.
The Wimbledon champion, who had her right calf heavily bandaged, was able to feast on her foe's weak second serve and kept her at bay. A trainer saw to Williams after the match. She will next face Italy's Flavia Pennetta in the $145,000 tournament. In another match, Maria Kirilenko of Russia beat Catalina Castano of Colombia 6-3, 6-0.
ATP Tour loses sponsor
Berlin: Mercedes-Benz said it will end its 11-year sponsorship of men's tennis when its current deal with the ATP Tour expires at the end of 2008. The DaimlerChrysler luxury car unit, which has backed the tour since 1996, said it wanted to shift the focus of its marketing activities to golf, horse riding and soccer, as well as fashion and lifestyle. "Over the years our partnership with the ATP has had a very high-brand fit for Mercedes-Benz but we are now adding a new angle to our revised brand positioning," said Olaf Goettgens, VP of brand communications for Mercedes-Benz passenger cars.
Federer pulls out
Tokyo: World No. 1 Roger Federer has pulled out of the Japan Open tennis tournament citing a busy schedule, organizers said Friday. "I'm so disappointed that I have to withdraw from the Japan Open," Federer said.