Tennis

Gasquet reaches semis in France

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MONTPELLIER, France (AP)

Third-seeded Richard Gasquet of France reached his second semifinal of the season after beating countryman Julien Benneteau 6-1, 4-6, 6-1 at the Open Sud de France on Friday.

Gasquet will take on Jarkko Nieminen of Finland, who advanced to the last four with a scrappy 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (2) win against Sergiy Stakhovsky of Ukraine, with both players dropping serve three times.

The sixth-seeded Benneteau needed lengthy treatment to his back early into the third set and was clearly impeded afterwards. He barely moved to try and reach Gasquet's passing shot down the line on match point.

Michael Llodra and eighth-seeded Benoit Paire also won their quarterfinals and will meet in Saturday's other semi to guarantee a French finalist.

Llodra hit 11 aces in a 7-6 (3), 6-1 win against Jan Hajek of the Czech Republic, sealing the victory with a volley at the net, while Paire beat fourth-seeded Gilles Simon 7-5, 7-6 (4) in another all-French match.

''It's not easy to play a friend, we were both very tense on the court,'' said Paire, who also reached his second semifinal this year after reaching the last four in Chennai, India. ''I'm happy that I managed to stay focused on my match.''

Simon broke in the seventh game for 4-3 but Paire broke straight back and saved a break point in the next game before taking control, and then opened up a 5-2 lead in the second set.

Serving for match, Paire double faulted and Simon forced a tiebreak. Paire converted his second match point when he hit a two-handed backhand into Simon's feet.

''Benoit's aggressive on second serve,'' Simon said. ''He had a lot of opportunities on my second serve and hurt me with that.''

Stakhovsky broke Nieminen to lead 3-1 in the deciding set, but Nieminen leveled immediately. Then Nieminen broke Stakhovsky in the 11th game only to be broken back.

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