Published February 18, 2011
| Associated Press
MARSEILLE, France – Top-seeded Robin Soderling of Sweden beat defending champion Michael Llodra 6-1, 6-4 Friday to reach the semifinals of the Open 13.
Marin Cilic of Croatia also advanced, upsetting second-seeded Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic 6-3, 6-4 to earn a matchup against Mikhail Youzhny. The Russian outlasted Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France 6-4, 2-6, 6-4.
Soderling saved four breakpoints in a long opening service game in a rematch of last year's quarterfinal. He then broke the eighth-seeded Frenchman's serve twice in the first set and once again in the second.
"I was a little bit slow again today," Soderling said, "but he played really well and really fast. I was lucky to hold my serve in the first game.
"But I think the fact he played so fast and so well, it was good for me. It was like a wakeup call. Every time I play against Mika the match can go either way because we both serve good."
Soderling, ranked fourth in the world, hit 13 aces. He will face Russia's Dmitry Tursunov, who beat fourth-seeded Jurgen Melzer of Austria 6-4, 2-6, 6-1.
The big-serving Soderling has started the year strongly with 15 victories and only one loss, and is chasing a second straight title after winning in Rotterdam last weekend. He also won in Australia at Brisbane last month.
Cilic reached his first semifinal of the season by dominating Berdych from the outset, sealing the match with a superb forehand pass down the line after a long rally.
"I'm really, really happy with my game," Cilic said. "I played really consistently from the beginning until the end."
Cilic hit 18 winners in the first set and forced five break chances on Berdych's serve — winning two — without facing a single breakpoint himself.
"I was very close to the baseline and making him move as well," Cilic said. "In that first set I made him play a lot, especially on his serve ... I was really into the game and found the ways to put him in tough positions."
The 28th-ranked Cilic has five career titles, but none this year, and has reached at least the quarterfinals in three straight events since his fourth-round defeat to top-ranked Rafael Nadal last month at the Australian Open.
Youzhny converted his first match point when a backhand from the sixth-seeded Tsonga sailed long.
The third-seeded Russian earned a break point at 3-3 in the decider when Tsonga double faulted and converted it when the Frenchman netted a backhand volley.
Tsonga, who won this tournament in 2009, dropped serve at 4-4 in the first set after a string of unforced errors. But the Frenchman fought back in the second set, hitting 18 winners to only seven for Youzhny, and winning 12 of 18 points at the net.
Tursunov reached his first semifinal this season after a nagging ankle injury hampered his career in the past two years.
A former top 20 player, Tursunov is now ranked 129th. He broke Melzer in the 10th game to take the first set. Melzer, a French Open semifinalist, then won four straight games and held serve to rally at one set apiece, but the Russian jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the third before clinching the win.