Andy Murray couldn’t sustain his 12-0 Head-to-Head winning record against Gilles Simon as he lost his quarterfinal match tamely against the Frenchman in two sets. The Scot committed an unusually large number of unforced errors and paid the price in the end. But full credit must be given to eighth-seeded Simon, who continued his good run in the tournament. However, there were predictable results in other quarterfinal matches, except Raonic’s quarterfinal against Ukrainian Sergiy Stakhovsky that went the distance. But the best performance came from defending champion Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic. Playing against talented but temperamental Frenchman Gael Monfils, Berdych hardly broke sweat as he dictated terms with a superb all-court game. The manner in which Berdych played his quarterfinal; he left no one in doubt about his intentions of lifting the Rotterdam Open Title for the second year running. For the place in Sunday’s final, Berdych will have to get past Murray’s conqueror Gilles Simon. Other quarterfinal winner was Stanislas Wawrinka, who got past Luxemburg’s Gilles Muller to set up a semifinal clash with Milos Raonic on Saturday.
Bringing up the week’s biggest upset was Gilles Simon of France, who shrugged off his past 12-match losing streak against top seed Andy Murray and turned the tables on the Scot. The 30-year old world no.19 Simon took to the court against Murray with an attitude of nothing further to lose. Murray began the first set disastrously, losing his opening service game that allowed Simon to go ahead 2-0. The Frenchman broke again, two games later, and piled up a 5-1 lead as the unforced errors from the Scot took his toll. Murray tried a comeback bid by holding his serve and breaking Simon in the eighth game but it was too late as Simon served out the first set 6-4. In the second set too, the Frenchman raced to a 3-0 lead. But at 4-1, the top-seed tried to bounce back into the match once again as he broke Simon in the sixth game to cut down the deficit to 4-2. The Frenchman had sensed victory by then and despite Murray raising his game somewhat, Simon finished the match 6-4, 6-2. In the semifinal on Saturday, Simon will face defending champion Tomas Berdych, who was clinical in his match against another Frenchman Gael Monfils. Hitting a flurry of accurate winners from baseline, the Czech made Monfils run around from side to side as he took the first set in 23 minutes. Early in the second set, Berdych fell in trying to chase a drop-shot by Monfils. It was a heavy thud and even Monfils jumped over to help Berdych rise to his feet. But after a minimum of help, Berdych was back to his usual game and broke Monfils to go ahead 2-1. He continued to maintain the tempo and finished the match 6-1, 6-4.
In the only three-set quarterfinal battle, Canada’s Milos Raonic beat Ukraine’s Sergiy Stakhovsky to book his berth in the semifinal. Raonic made a bad start and lost the first set 2-6. But the Canadian raised his game and boomed 5 out of his 6 aces in the final set to emerge victorious at 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 win. For a place in the final, Raonic will meet 4th seed Stan Wawrinka of Switzerland, who advanced to the semifinal with a 7-6, 6-3 victory over Luxemburg’s Gilles Muller. The first set went on serve with both players holding easily on their turns. The tiebreak became inevitable in the end. Both players served so well that Muller won 95% of his first serve points and Wawrinka made it 100%. Wawrinka topped that with no unforced errors while Muller committed very few. The Swiss asserted himself in the tiebreak, led 5-2 and produced some stunning backhand shots to take the first set 7-6 in 38 minutes. On Wawrinka’s serve in the opening game, Muller broke but the Swiss broke back immediately to nullify the advantage. Wawrinka faced another break point soon but he produced two aces to take the game. After that Wawrinka pushed the pedal and outplayed Muller in the remaining games and finished the match 7-6, 6-3.
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