Karlovic to face Llodra in Rotterdam tennis semis

February 23rd, 2008 - 12:48 pm ICT by admin  

Rotterdam (The Netherlands), Feb 23 (DPA) Ivo Karlovic fired a dozen aces while Michael Llodra produced 13 as the big-hitting pair have booked a semi-final date at the seed-short ABN-AMRO World Tennis. In the quarterfinals Friday, Croatian Karlovic defeated German qualifier Mischa Zverev 6-3, 6-1.

Llodra kept French hopes alive at an event won from 2000 to 2002 by his compatriots, putting out the last Dutchman as he beat 20-year-old Robin Haase 7-6 (7-5), 7-6 (7-5). He was joined in the final four by compatriot Gilles Simon, a winner over Russian number 132 Teimuraz Gabashvili 6-3, 6-2.

In the second semi-final, Simon will face Robin Soderling of Sweden, back on form after a wrist injury with a defeat of Italy’s Andreas Seppi 6-3, 6-2.

Seppi put out 2004 winner Lleyton Hewitt in the first round and caught top seed Rafael Nadal in the second round as the 24-year-old hit a purple patch this week.

The Rotterdam tournament became the hard-luck story so far this season as all eight seeds were eliminated by second round. The last time that happened was Nottingham in summer 2006.

Karlovic had not played a 2008 quarter-final before Friday after a slow start to the season. The Croatian holds the 2007 ace record with 1,318 and earned his first top 10 wins of the year when he beat fifth seed Tomas Berdych this week.

“I’m satisfied with my game, hopefully I will keep playing this well,” said the 29-year-old Karlovic. “The top 20 is close for me now.

“I’m the highest-ranked player still in the draw, but I don’t want to consider myself the favourite. That would put too much pressure on me,” he said.

“Everyone has good chances now, I just want to keep playing well.”

Llodra started out with a title in Adelaide, the second of his career and got into the Auckland quarter-finals a week later in January before the Australian Open.

He improved to 12-3 on the season with his tight win over the 94th-ranked Haase.

Llodra almost needed a third and deciding set as he lost a 4-1 lead in the second-set tiebreaker before an overhead set up a match point. A mis-hit by Haase ended the contest after one hour, 37 minutes.

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