Radek Stepanek claims another scalp at Queen`s

Last Updated: Friday, June 13, 2014 - 22:35

London: Czech veteran Radek Stepanek claimed another impressive scalp at Queen`s Club as he followed his shock win over Andy Murray by defeating South Africa`s Kevin Anderson 1-6, 6-3, 6-2 in the quarter-finals on Friday.

Stepanek, ranked 42nd, ended defending champion Murray`s 19-match winning run on grass on Wednesday to clinch his first victory against a player ranked in the top 10 since 2012.

And the 35-year-old continued his giant-killing streak by fighting back from a set down to eliminate world number 18 Anderson and reach the last four at the Wimbledon warm-up for the first time in nine years.

Stepanek will play Feliciano Lopez on Saturday for a place in Sunday`s final after the Spanish 10th seed enjoyed a surprise 6-4, 7-6 (9/7) success against world number six Tomas Berdych.

Stepanek seemed to be suffering a hangover from his stunning victory against Wimbledon champion Murray during a lethargic first set display that saw the big-serving 6ft 8in Anderson overpower his opponent with ease.

But Stepanek, supported again by compatriot and Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech, wrestled the momentum back in the second set.

He quickly seized the initiative in the final set as well, breaking Anderson in the first game to seal his latest impressive win after surviving a 15-ace barrage from the seventh seed.

"It`s great to beat a top guy, but it`s even tougher to back it up with a win again," said 15th seed Stepanek, who is bidding to win his first singles` title since 2011 in Washington.

"In the first set Kevin played perfect tennis. For a half hour I really had no chance.

"But I once won a match where I faced 78 aces. That was against Ivo Karlovic in the Davis Cup in 2009, so I knew I just had to wait and take my first chance."

Berdych`s big-serving game is perfected to the grass, but he met his match in Lopez, a smooth-moving left-hander who had beaten four-time Queen`s champion Lleyton Hewitt in the second round and reached the semi-finals of the tournament in 2010.

Lopez, the world number 29, broke in the fifth game for a 3-2 lead and he easily closed out the set.

The 32-year-old kept the pressure on in the second set and when Berdych double-faulted on match point Lopez was able to celebrate his 50th win on grass and his first ATP Tour semi-final berth since Gstaad nearly a year ago.

All the shock results at this year`s tournament mean there will be a first-time champion as all four previous winners in the draw -- Murray, Hewitt, Sam Querrey and Marin Cilic -- were knocked out before the quarter-finals.

Bulgarian fourth seed Grigor Dimitrov didn`t have to break sweat to reach the semi-finals as his scheduled opponent, Ukrainian eighth seed Alexandr Dolgopolov, was forced to withdraw ahead of their match with a thigh strain in his right leg suffered during a doubles match the previous evening.

Dimitrov will face top seeded Swiss Stan Wawrinka, the reigning Australian Open champion, or Australia`s Marinko Matosevic in the last four.

AFP
First Published: Friday, June 13, 2014 - 22:35

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