Berdych stuns Roddick to reach Tokyo final

Tomas Berdych stuns second seed Andy Roddick 6-7 7-5 7-6 to set up a Japan Open final against the Argentine Juan Martin Del Potro.

Tomas Berdych reacts after winning his semi-final match against Andy Roddick at the Japan Open.
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TOKYO // The Czech tennis player Tomas Berdych stunned second seed Andy Roddick 6-7 7-5 7-6 today to set up a Japan Open final against the Argentine Juan Martin Del Potro. The fifth seed Del Potro, who has won 29 of his previous 30 matches, beat the Frenchman Richard Gasquet 6-3 4-6 7-5 to book a spot in tomorrow's final of the US$969,000 (Dh3.5 million) Tokyo tournament. Roddick, one of several players still chasing a spot in the season-ending Tennis Masters Cup in Shanghai, looked to be in control until a late collapse against the ninth seed Berdych.

"They key was just trying to stay as close as possible to him," Berdych said after the encounter. "Even at 5-3 down it was only one break. When my chances came I just went for it." Roddick took the first set on a tiebreak after slamming a 10th ace past Berdych. Berdych struck back in the second, breaking Roddick's serve in the 11th game and then restored parity by forcing the American into a wild forehand.

Roddick jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the decider but the former US Open champion faltered while serving for the match at 5-3 and was made to pay. Berdych pushed the set to another tiebreak and the Czech quickly raced to a 6-1 advantage, wrapping up proceedings on his third match point with his 17th ace. Del Potro, who recently helped Argentina reach the Davis Cup final, took just over two hours to see off Gasquet, last year's beaten finalist in Tokyo.

A double-fault from the fourth seed Gasquet handed Del Potro a 3-2 lead and the Argentine wrapped up the first set by breaking again with a fizzing forehand down the line. Gasquet broke early in the second before levelling the match by threading a forehand past Del Potro's desperate lunge. But it was Del Potro who held his nerve, the 20-year-old securing his place in the final when Gasquet blazed a forehand wide.

"The last three months have not been normal," smiled Del Potro, whose only loss in his last 30 matches was a quarter-final defeat by the Briton Andy Murray at the US Open. "I just keep working because I want to be better. I don't want to relax," he said. A fifth title of the year would move Del Potro into the coveted eighth spot in the year-long rankings and in line for a place at next month's prestigious Masters Cup.

Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Murray have already qualified for the eight-man Shanghai shootout. *Reuters