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Kucera dashes Canas hopes
- Srichaphan to meet Lisnard in semis l Bhupathi-Woodbridge in last four

Chennai: Last year’s finalist Paradorn Srichaphan of Thailand enhanced his chances of winning the singles title, even as two seeds fell by the wayside in the Chennai Open here Friday night.

Despite being broken once in the second set, Srichaphan managed to script an authoritative 6-4, 6-4 win over Sargis Sargsian of Armenia, while the fourth seeded Juan Ignacio Chela of Argentina scored a facile 6-4, 6-3 win to dispose off Tomas Behrend, a qualifier of Germany.

In the semi-finals on Saturday, Karol Kucera, who put paid to the hopes of defending champion and top seed Guillermo Canas of Argentina 6-1, 7-5, faces Chela, while Srichaphan, the favourite to win the title, plays the dark horse Jean Rene Lisnard of France.

Top seedeed combine of Mahesh Bhupathi and Todd Woodbridge thrashed the German duo of Krasten Braasch and Rainer Schuettler 6-2, 6-1 to move into the doubles semi-finals.

Leander Paes and David Rikl went down to Thomas Cibulek and Ota Fukarek of the Czech Republic 6-2, 3-6, 6-7 (6-8) late Friday night.

Earlier, Lisnard accounted for the second upset of the day scalping sixth seeded Rainer Schuettler of Germany 6-2, 7-5.

Kucera looked back at his best at the Nungambakkam stadium as he broke Canas early in the match. Hitting big baseline shots that angled deep into Canas’ forehand, he raced to a 4-0 lead and then closed out the first set quickly.

But Canas, who had beaten four top-10 players while winning his first Masters series title in Toronto last year, fought back from a break down in the closely contested second set.

The 25-year-old from Buenos Aires slowed the pace of the game and made it 5-5 before Kucera regained his rhythm to make the match-winning break in the 12th game of the set.

“I’m really happy to be in the semi-finals here again,” Kucera told reporters.

“I’m going to try to play like this every match hopefully it’ll be good enough to get me back to a good ranking.”

The 28-year-old, who lives in Monte Carlo, is a former semi-finalist at the Australian Open and has won five ATP titles but none since 1999.

“I made a great start today and also finished well,” Kucera said. “Canas is a fighter and I knew it would be tough to finish the match but I hung on.”

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