at the Union Buildings in Pretoria
Oeiras, Portugal – Tomas Berdych and Milos Raonic both posted 6-3, 6-2 scorelines to reach the quarter-finals of the ATP-WTA Portugal Open.
Top seed Berdych won in 75 minutes over Indian Somdev Devverman while Raonic took eight minutes fewer as the Canadian second seed stepped up his claycourt game ahead of the French Open to beat Uruguay's Pablo Cuevas.
Berdych finished with six aces and three breaks of serve as the world number seven played for the first time since a third-round Monte Carlo loss last month.
The Czech will face Argentina's Leonardo Mayer for a place in the semi-finals.
Berdych is playing as a wild card, and said that the chance to get matches on clay is welcome after his early Monte Carlo exit.
“When I got the last-minute call, it was a great opportunity to come play some more matches and get back into the clay rhythm. I want to be ready for the big events which are coming,” said Berdych.
“It was a solid start but we are still in the early stages of the tournament, This was just my first step and I need to keep going. I want to focus on hitting the ball as cleanly as possible.”
In front of a sold-out May 1 holiday crowd, Raonic managed what compatriot Eugenie Bouchard could not as the second seed lost to Svetlana Kuznetsova in a quarter-final in the women's draw 6-4, 6-1.
Raonic, a career-best ninth, managed just six aces; his opponent, ranked 161, never earned a break point.
The winner lost just 11 points on serve, five of those from double-faults. Raonic next plays Carlos Berlocq of Argentina.
“I'm happy with this result and with the level I was able to produce,” said Raonic.
“This was my first match here and they can be tricky. It can sometimes be difficult to find early momentum.
“But overall I look back and I'm happy with how it has gone so far. My main goal this season is to do better on clay than I have in the past.”
Portugal's Gastao Elias duplicated his 2013 quarter-final with an upset of Spanish fourth seed Guillermo Garcia-Lopez 6-4, 3-6, 6-2.
The number 179 will Friday line up against Victor Hanescu after the Romanian beat Pablo Carreno Busta of Spain 6-3, 4-6, 6-3.
In the women's draw, double Grand Slam title winner and seventh seed Kuznetsova reached only her third WTA semi-final in as many seasons with a 6-4, 6-1 upset of Bouchard.
The Russian won 11 of the last 12 games.
Kuznetsova, ranked 29th, last played a semi last year in Moscow, losing to Samantha Stosur. Before that, her previous appearance in a final four came in January, 2012, at Auckland.
The Russian played a quarter-final here a year ago after last competing in Portugal in 2002.
“It's nice to be back in the semis,” said the 2009 French Open winner and 2004 US Open champion. “My clay season is certainly starting better than my hardcourt.”
Kuznetsova came to Portugal after reaching the quarter-finals last week in Stuttgart and had trained briefly with Bouchard earlier in the week.
“I had seen her play some matches but the training gave me a chance to see her game – and the same for her,” said the 28-year-old. “It helped me figure out how to play her.”
Kuznetsova got off to a poor start, trailing 4-1 in the opening set before closing the gap with breaks in the seventh and ninth games against her 20-year-old opponent, an Australian Open semi-finalist in January.
Kuznetsova won the slow-moving set in 43 minutes, then opened the throttle to run away to victory in another half-hour.
“I was able to play my game and everything worked out well for me,” said Kuznetsova, who now faces compatriot and eighth seed Elena Vesnina, who outlasted Italian fourth seed Roberta Vinci 7-6(7/5), 4-6, 7-5. – Sapa-AFP