Tomas Berdych Battles Through to Semis as Milos Raonic Exits in Portugal Open
Tomas Berdych, who only took a wild card here to get more clay matches with Roland Garros just three weeks away, almost found himself on the sidelines as he dropped the first set to Leonardo Mayer.
Top seed Tomas Berdych toughed out a battling 3-6, 6-4, 6-4 win over qualifier Leonardo Mayer while second seed Milos Raonic was eliminated from his quarterfinal at the ATP-WTA Portugal Open on Friday.
Berdych, who only took a wild card here to get more clay matches with Roland Garros just three weeks away, almost found himself on the sidelines as he dropped the first set to his 88th-ranked Argentine opponent.
The sixth-ranked Czech survived a roller-coaster final set and will Saturday face Portugal's Gastao Elias or Romanian Victor Hanescu.
Raonic again disappointed on clay, bundled out in just under 90 minutes 7-5, 6-4 by Argentine Carlos Berlocq.
The Canadian was limited to six aces and the same number of double-faults in defeat as he lost serve four times.
"At the end of the day, I want to do much better this season on clay than I have in the past," he said. "I'm putting a lot of attention on Madrid (next week) and Paris.
"On clay, training doesn't mean a lot. You need confidence that only comes through wins."
Number 62 ranked Berlocq next plays 98th-ranked Daniel Gimeno-Traver, after the Spaniard upset third-seeded compatriot Marcel Granollers 6-1, 6-2.
Berdych was stunned in the opening set by Mayer after leading with a break.
But the world number six recovered his poise in the second set despite again going down a break.
In the third, it looked like the Czech was in charge after breaking for 2-0 only to lose it a game later to the challenger despite leading 40-0.
Berdych again dropped serve in the fifth game for 2-3 but then got it back to 4-4. The seed made a final stand and emerged with a nervous victory on his second match point after two hours, nine minutes with a concluding break.
In the women's event Svetlana Kuznetsova reached her first final in more than three years on Friday with a 6-3, 6-1 win over fellow Russian Elena Vesnina to set up a clash with Carla Suarez Navarro.
The Russian seventh-seed, who owns Grand Slam titles from 2004 in Paris and 2009 in New York, will take on the Spanish top seed competing in her third straight final here but without a career trophy of any kind.
Suarez Navarro overcame Romanian qualifier Irina Begu 7-6 (7/3), 6-1 in one and three-quarter hours.