ATP Tour

Berdych battles into final

Tomas Berdych (Getty)
Tomas Berdych (Getty)

Bangkok - Top seed Tomas Berdych struggled for nearly three hours before finally defeating Frenchman Gilles Simon 6-7 (5/7), 6-2, 7-5 on Saturday to reach the final of the Thailand Open.

World number six Berdych will play his third final of the season on Sunday when he faces Milos Raonic of Canada, who also came from a set down to oust defending champion Richard Gasquet 3-6, 7-5, 6-4.

The hard-serving Raonic hit 23 aces in the second semifinal but struggled with unforced errors in the first set. In the second, he broke Gasquet in the 12th game to level the match and earned another break in the last game of the decider.

It was another tight match between the two, after Raonic wasted a match point before losing to Gasquet in five sets in the fourth round of the U.S. Open.

"He was playing really well," Raonic said. "He didn't make a lot of errors. I just said to myself I had to focus on my first serves."

The Czech had his troubles with the game of the 14th-ranked Simon, who lost the 2012 final to countryman Gasquet.

Berdych is looking for his first title since Stockholm last October -- he is currently the lone member of the ATP top 10 without a trophy this season.

The match required a marathon effort from Berdych, who lost the opening set after 74 minutes.

Simon, known for long matches and extended passages of play, did not stray from type as he made his opponent work for the win.

After being treated on court for back pain on Friday, Simon did not use his courtside chair during changeovers in the Berdych match.

"I was a bit unlucky in the first set," said Berdych, winner of his third match from eight played against Simon. "I stuck to my tactics, which had been successful.

"I just tried to keep going in the same way, used the same strategy - it was a good option in the end."

The top seed squared the match at a set each but had to keep up the pressure in the third before finally getting past the Frenchman who beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga late week for the Metz title.

Berdych ended with 18 aces and six breaks of serve, saving 11 of the 14 break points he faced.

"With Gilles you always expect a long match, that is his game. He likes long rallies. I tried to deal with that," Berdych said. "In the end it was very close but finally my serve helped me out and I was able to finish the win."

The Czech, playing in his seventh semi-final of the year and third in Bangkok after 2007-08, had lost his past three meetings against Simon.

Berdych beat Raonic in their only previous meeting and trails Gasquet 5-3 in their career series.

"This is my third final of the season, so fingers crossed," said Berdych. "I need to do what is best for my body now and try to recover. I want to be strong and ready for the final."

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