Baghdatis to face Berdych in Halle final
Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis, seeded eight, will face last year's finalist and fourth seed Tomas Berdych in Sunday's final after his 7-6, 6-4 win.india Updated: Jun 16, 2007 20:20 IST
Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis is on course to celebrate his 22nd birthday on Sunday by winning the ATP Halle tournament title after he beat German number two Philipp Kohlschreiber in straight sets on Saturday.
Baghdatis, seeded eight, will face last year's finalist and fourth seed Tomas Berdych in Sunday's final with the 96,000 euros winner's cheque at stake after his 7-6 (7/1), 6-4 win on Saturday.
Baghdatis, 18th on the ATP world rankings, made light work of beating his opponent.
Having powered his way into a 3-0 first set lead, Baghdatis weathered Kohlschreiber's recovery to level the match at 6-6, but the Cypriot was clearly fired up enough to lead the tie-break 5-0 before winning 7-1.
The 23-year-old German hit back with three aces in the third set, but Baghdatis - who has been impressive on grass all week - was just too strong and was always in control to win the second set with an ace.
"It would be a great birthday present," said Baghdatis if he can pick up his third ATP title and he has the upper hand having beaten Berdych on clay last year in the pair's only previous meeting.
Earlier in the day Berdych, last year's finalist at Halle, admitted he was pleased to have a second chance to win the title after Saturday's semi-final win over Jarkko Nieminen.
The Czech served up seven aces to Nieminen's four and needed just one hour and 24 minutes to see off this Finnish opponent, ranked nine places below him in the ATP rankings.
Having lost to world number one Roger Federer in the 2006 final, Berdych was relishing the chance to contest Sunday's final and says he is hoping to go one step further.
"Of course I am very pleased to reach the final," he said, "It was a bit of a surprise to reach the final last year, this year I was hoping to do the same, I just hope I can do one step further."
After Federer withdrew on Monday morning, citing fatigue and a groin strain, Berdych admitted the absence of the grass court king - who has an incredible 48 consecutive wins on the natural surface - has given everyone else a chance.
"It has been a big chance for everyone else with Roger missing," said Berdych. "He has won here four times and he is so hard to beat, now it's an advantage for the rest of us.
"I was supposed to meet him in the semi-finals, but his withdrawal has given me an easier time."
Having been handed a walk-over in the quarter-finals after Russian sixth seed Mikhail Youzhny withdrew with a back injury, Berdych had few problems beating Nieminen.
The 21-year-old Czech took the first set on a tie-break 7-6 (7/5), but there was little to choose between Berdych and Nieminen, who battled back and refused to go down without a fight.
Both players served four aces in the first set, but Nieminen, who had an easy time in Friday's quarter-final after his opponent Marc Gicquel was forced out by injury, fought back and broke the Czech early to take a 4-2 lead.
But Berdych, ranked 13th in the world, pulled things back to 4-4 and then blitzed Nieminen to take a 5-4 lead before breaking his opponent to win the match and book his final place.