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Tennis | ATP

Berdych, Cilic make Chennai quarters



Top seed Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic and No 3 Marin Cilic of Croatia entered the quarterfinals of the ATP Chennai Open with contrasting wins on Thursday.

The 15th world-ranked Cilic shrugged off a hesitant start in his first match of the season to defeat Sergiy Stakhovsky of Ukraine 4-6, 6-2, 6-3 in an hour and 45 minutes.

World No 6 Berdych, who like Cilic was given a first-round bye, opened his campaign with a 6-3, 6-1 demolition of Indian wildcard Somdev Devvarman at the Nungambakkam tennis stadium.

Cilic, a two-time Chennai winner in 2009 and 2010, began the match with a string of unforced errors from the baseline that allowed Stakhovsky to wrap up the first set in 39 minutes.

But the big-serving Croat regrouped in the next two sets with 12 aces and dazzling cross-court winners to march into the last eight of the $430 000 season opener.

"It was my first match of the season and it took time to adjust to the conditions, the court and the weather," said Cilic. "Besides, Sergiy played the first set really well.

"But it all came together in the next two sets. I was able to serve better and did not make many errors. I have worked hard during the off-season and I hope it results in something good."

Cilic's quarterfinal opponent will be fifth seed Benoit Paire of France, who swept aside Israeli Dudi Sela 6-1, 6-0 in just 40 minutes.

"Its great to win with that scoreline," said the 23-year-old Paire, who last year rose from 95 in the rankings to number 47.

"But I can't afford to relax. I have to be ready for the tougher matches to follow."

Berdych, who finished in the world's top 10 for the third consecutive year, proved too strong for the 664th-ranked Devvarman as he wrapped up the match in just over an hour.

"I am satisfied because I achieved the level of play I had hoped for in my first outing," the Czech said. "But it will get tougher with each round, so I am not looking too far ahead."

Berdych will take on Roberto Agut for a place in the semifinals after the 24-year-old Spaniard ousted Matthias Bachinger of Germany 7-6 (7/4), 6-3 on an outside court.

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