Raonic blazes past Robredo into St. Petersburg semifinal

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia (AP) Canada’s Milos Raonic took just 53 minutes to demolish Tommy Robredo 6-1, 6-2 and reach the semifinals of the St. Petersburg Open on Friday.

Raonic, the second seed and top-ranked player left in the draw, won almost twice as many points as his fifth-seeded Spanish opponent, hitting 10 aces in a one-sided match.

In Saturday’s semifinal, Raonic will face another Spanish player, the fourth seed Roberto Bautista Agut, who earlier Friday saw off France’s Lucas Pouille 6-2, 6-3.

World No. 9 Raonic said he respected Bautista Agut’s ability on serve, adding ”hopefully I can find some solutions in my match tomorrow” in televised comments. A win against Raonic would continue success in Russia for Bautista Agut, whose last tour final came in October 2014 in Moscow. Raonic won their only meeting last year in straight sets in Paris.

In the other semifinal, Austrian third seed Dominic Thiem, ranked world No. 21, will take on seventh-seeded Portuguese player Joao Sousa after they won their respective quarterfinals earlier Friday.

Thiem stormed past Uzbekistan’s Denis Istomin, holding serve throughout and converting 3 of 12 break points on his way to a 6-2, 7-5 win. The 22-year-old Austrian is chasing more success in a breakout season which has seen him win three titles from his first four ATP finals. However, a final on the St. Petersburg hard court would be Thiem’s first tour final on a surface other than clay.

Thiem has won all three of his previous encounters with Sousa, including beating him 6-4, 6-1 in the final of the Croatia Open in July.

Sousa won 7-6 (7), 7-6 (1) against Italy’s Simone Bolelli, who a day earlier had disposed of top seed Tomas Berdych. Even though the match did not feature a single break point for either player, the first-set tiebreak was tense, with Sousa saving set point from Bolelli on an 18-shot rally before converting his fourth set point.