© Chengdu Open

Yuichi Sugita reaches his second ATP World Tour semi-final in Chengdu.

Sugita, Istomin Into Chengdu Semis

Both chasing second ATP World Tour titles

Fifth seed Yuichi Sugita advanced to the semi-finals of the Chengdu Open on Friday as he defeated Dusan Lajovic 6-2, 6-4 in 64 minutes.

It is another step forward in what has been a career year for the Japanese player. The 29-year-old Sugita won his first ATP World Tour title in Antalya on grass in June (d. Mannarino) and reached his first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 quarter-final in Cincinnati (l. to Dimitrov). Earlier this month, the right-hander hit a new career-high at No. 42 in the Emirates ATP Rankings.

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Sugita made short work of Lajovic, converting four of his six break points and winning 70 per cent of his service points in the pair’s first meeting.

“I think this year has been amazing,” said Sugita. “I’m focused to try and reach another final tomorrow and just trying to enjoy it.”

Sugita goes on to face Denis Istomin, who edged #NextGenATP American Jared Donaldson 2-6, 7-5, 7-6(5). Istomin saved four break points in a crucial hold in the fifth game of the second set, before breaking Donaldson in the 12th game to level the match. After missing a match point in the 10th game of the decider, the Uzbekistani ultimately prevailed in the tie-break after two hours and 30 minutes.

“I started really bad in the first set,” said Istomin. “He was going great. All his strokes were working and he was serving well. In the second set I found my game and my serve and started to play more aggressively, especially on the second serve return. In the third set I just tried to keep going and tried to fight. In general it was a good match and I’m happy with the win.”

The 31-year-old Istomin is through to his first ATP World Tour semi-final since winning his maiden title in Nottingham two years ago (d. Querrey).

In the top half of the draw, Argentine Guido Pella advanced to his second semi-final of the season with a 6-3, 7-6(3) win over #NextGenATP American Taylor Fritz. But Pella will need to wait to learn the identity of the man he will play in his quest to reach a second ATP World Tour final this season (Munich, l. Zverev).

Pella will play veteran Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis, who returned to the court Saturday afternoon to win one final game and complete a 6-3, 6-2 victory over Chinese Taipei's Yen-Hsun Lu. Baghdatis was in a commanding position to reach his third semi-final of the season, leading Lu by a set and a double break, when rain suspended the match Friday night.

Erlich/Qureshi Reach Final
Jonathan Erlich and Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi booked their spot in the Chengdu final as they defeated third seeds Santiago Gonzalez and Nenad Zimonjic 6-3, 6-4 in 69 minutes. The Israeli/Pakistani duo are bidding for their first team title on the ATP World Tour.

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