Anderson, Mannarino into semifinals in Joburg
Fourth-seeded Kevin Anderson and sixth-seeded Adrian Mannarino set up a semifinal showdown between the last two seeded players at the SA Open as they both cruised through to the last four in straight sets on Friday.
Home favorite Anderson dropped just four games in a one-sided 6-3, 6-1 win over Slovakia's Karol Beck in less than an hour. The 24-year-old Anderson mixed powerful serves with clever drop shots and led 10-3 on winners for a place in the last four at Montecasino - his second ATP semifinal.
''It was a positive match for me,'' the No. 56-ranked Anderson said. ''My serve's pretty effective at the moment and I'm happy with tonight's performance. I was feeling pretty free and when I'm loose I think I play my best.''
Anderson will now play Mannarino of France, who was too strong for Canada's Frank Dancevic to go through 6-3, 6-2 in just 54 minutes.
Dancevic beat defending champion and top-seeded Feliciano Lopez in the first round, but Mannarino, 22, currently at a career-high ranking of No. 67, broke three times and powered past his unseeded challenger. Anderson, who is from Johannesburg, has a 2-1 edge in previous meetings with Mannarino.
''It's going to be a challenge (playing Mannarino),'' he said. ''I'm going to have to be on top of my game.''
India's Somdev Devvarman and South African wild card Izak van der Merwe complete the semifinal lineup, with all four players searching for a first career ATP title.
Van der Merwe and Anderson are the first home players to reach the semis of the SA Open since its return to the tour in 2009.
The unseeded Devvarman improved his record to 3-0 over Rik de Voest, another South African wild card entrant, with a comeback 3-6, 7-6 (5), 6-1 win for a place in his second ATP semi.
Devvarman was 4-1 up in the second set but let it slip, and was two points away from defeat in the tiebreak before wrestling back the momentum.
He took the breaker 7-5, then broke twice straight away and raced through the deciding set for a place in the last four for the first time since 2009, when he lost in the final of his home tournament in Chennai to Croatia's Marin Cilic.
''It's not the easiest thing for Rik to come back from two breaks after you're two points away from the match,'' Devvarman said. ''Maybe I was lucky to get out of the second set in the breaker and it went my way from then.''
The U.S.-based Devvarman also has a 3-0 career record over Van der Merwe.
Van der Merwe reached a first ATP semifinal when he beat Simon Greul of Germany 7-6 (5), 6-2, continuing a strong showing this week from local players.
South Africa had three players in the last eight for the first time at an ATP event since 1996.
The 170th-ranked Van der Merwe broke Greul twice in the second set for another surprise win after upsetting last year's runner-up Stephane Robert of France in the first round. He has dropped just one set in his three matches.
''I can't be more pleased with the way I played,'' he said of his victory over Greul. ''I executed really well and I'm happy to be in the semis. This is my best achievement.''