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Paes-Stepanek in semi-finals

- Roger Federer clinches last-four berth
Roger Federer, in London, on Thursday

London: Third seeds Leander Paes and Radek Stepanek qualified for the semi-finals of the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals after winning their second Group A match against sixth seeded Spanish duo of Marcel Granollers and Marc Lopez in straight sets here on Thursday.

The Indo-Czech pair got the better of Granollers and Lopez 7-5, 6-4 in an hour and 32 minutes. Paes and Stepaneklost just five service points in the first set that lasted 46 minutes.

They created one set point opportunity on Lopez’s serve in the 12th game after Paes hit a forehand down the line, which Granollers volleyed into the net. Stepanek was aggressive on a backhand return and targetted Granollers, who was on the defensive, and could only hit long.

The Spaniards, however, regrouped to earn three break point chances in the first game of the second set out of which they converted one.

The Indo-Czech duo gained parity in the set by breaking Lopez. But their celebrations were short-lived as Stepanek lost his serve, volleying into the net at 30-40, for a third successive service break, even as Granollers took a 4-2 lead.

Momentum in the set continued to swing back and forth as Lopez was again broken for 4-4. Paes, making his 14th appearance at the season-ending championships, and Stepanek then grew in confidence and at 5-2 broke Granollers for the match and a place in the last four stage of the championship.

They won 28 of their 35 service points. Granollers and Lopez, on the other hand, could win only 11 of their 25 service points.

The Paes-Stepanek pair had won this year’s Australian Open, Sony Open Tennis and Shanghai Rolex Masters.

In singles, defending champion Roger Federer guaranteed his place in the last four with a straight-sets win over Spain’s David Ferrer.

The Swiss world No. 2, bidding for a seventh title at the end-of-season finale, dished out yet more punishment to Ferrer in a 6-4, 7-6 victory at the O2, taking his career record over the tenacious Spaniard to 14-0.

Ferrer was 40-0 up on Federer’s opening service game but having failed to capitalise he was immediately broken himself.

At 0-3 world No. 5 Ferrer could have been forgiven for feeling pessimistic about his prospects but he was rewarded for his endeavour with a break in the fifth game when Federer wafted a backhand wide.

Having hauled himself back into the match Ferrer wavered at 5-6, however, allowing Federer to take the opening set. Ferrer hung on to Federer’s coat tails in the second set to extend the Swiss maestro into a tie-break.

In a late match on Thursday, Tomas Berdych overpowered Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 4-6, 6-3, 7-5.