Verdasco, Hewitt, Del Potro in quarters
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San Jose, California – Top seed and defending champion Fernando Verdasco advanced to the quarterfinals of the $600,000 ATP SAP Open with a 7-5, 7-5 victory Thursday over Croatian Ivo Karlovic.
Karlovic blasted 14 aces but Verdasco won the only two break points of the match, the last in the 11th game, taking the 27-year-old Spaniard into a last-eight encounter Friday against Uzbek fifth seed Denis Istomin.
Istomin fired nine aces in defeating American Michael Russell 7-6 (9/7), 7-6 (7/4).
Argentina's Juan Martin Del Potro, the 2009 US Open champion, and Australian seventh seed Lleyton Hewitt, the 2001 US Open and 2002 Wimbledon champion, advanced to a quarter-final showdown with second-round wins.
Former world number one Hewitt ousted Argentina's Brian Dabul 3-6, 7-5, 6-3 while Del Potro, who has fallen from fourth to 484th in the rankings with a right wrist injury, beat Slovakian Lukas Lacko 6-1, 7-6 (7/1).
It will be the first quarter-final for Del Potro since his injury. This is only his third event of the year and first US tournament since his US Open victory. He lost in the second round at the Australian Open and in Sydney.
“I'm serving very strong,” Del Potro said. “I'm happy to be in a tournament again after a year out. I'm improving my game slowly. That's important for the future and for the season too.
“I don't know if I will be top 10 again in the future, but I know the way to find that position in the future. I'm working for that goal.”
Hewitt and Del Potro will be the first Grand Slam winners to meet at San Jose since Andre Agassi beat Michael Chang in the first round in 2003.
“It will be a tough match,” Hewitt said. “He's a quality player and he's on the comeback from injury, so he hasn't played the most amount of tennis. But he's a quality player, and if he gets up, it's going to be a tough match.”
Japanese eighth seed Kei Nishikori became the fourth seed to be sent packing, falling to 172nd-ranked US wild card Tim Smyczek 6-4, 3-6, 6-1.
Smyczek will next face French second seed Gael Monfils, who is seeking his first title outside Europe. Monfils ousted American Robert Kendrick 6-2, 5-7, 6-4. – Sapa-AFP