Del Potro, Berdych advance to Dubai semisBy MICHAEL CASEY , Associated Press
Feb. 28, 2013 10:18 AM ET
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Favored Tomas Berdych and Juan Martin del Potro reached the Dubai Championships semifinals with straight-set victories Thursday.
The third-seeded Berdych beat Russian wild card Dmitry Tursunov for the second time in five days, 6-3, 6-2. The No. 4-seeded Del Potro made the semifinals for the second straight year, defeating German qualifier Daniel Brands 6-4, 6-2.
If the seedings remain true, del Potro will face defending champion Novak Djokovic, and Berdych will play five-time champ Roger Federer.
Djokovic and Federer played their quarterfinals late Thursday.
Del Potro managed to neutralize the big-serving Brands and offered up some of his own firepower with seven aces, including six in the first set. He said his right wrist, which he injured in 2010, was not bothering him as much as it did earlier in the tournament and that he now "could play 100 percent."
The first set was tight, as both players held serve through the first nine games until mistakes from the 97th-ranked German allowed del Potro to break him and win the set. The second was much easier, as Del Potro broke Brands twice — winning the match when Brands double-faulted.
"I served well today. I didn't (concede) any break points. I think I took all my chances to break his serve," del Potro said.
Del Potro knows he'll need to be at full strength against Djokovic.
"The good thing is I'm not getting worse. I can hit my backhand often day by day, and it's a good thing to be 100 percent," he said. "I know against Djokovic tomorrow or (Andreas) Seppi I need to hit my backhand 100 percent and then see if I have a little chance to win."
Berdych also served well against Tursunov, hitting nine aces and winning 81 percent of his first-service points. He moved the Russian around the court, aware that Tursunov's sore left hamstring limited his mobility.
In a close first set, Berdych broke Tursunov to go up 4-2 and served out the set at love. He broke twice to go up 4-1 in the second and was never challenged after that.
"I know the situation. If you are in the position of playing one of the top guys and actually you don't feel well, you just have a small issue in your body, it's just a terrible match," Berdych said. "But at least you want to try. You never know what's going to happen. But once you are not really 100 percent ready, then it's tough."
Tursunov, who lost to Berdych last weekend in the Marseille semifinals, said he was considering pulling out of the Indian Wells qualifiers next week because of the injury.