Verdasco advances to ATP quarters


Spanish fifth seed Fernando Verdasco clinched a quarter-final berth at the US$416,000 ATP Tennis Channel Open here Wednesday with a 6-1, 5-7, 6-2 triumph over Thailand’s Danai Udomchoke. The victory lifted Verdasco to 2-0 in round-robin play, the event’s method of deciding qualifiers for Friday’s knockout quarter-finals. The move is being tested at a handful of tournaments this season in a bid to insure multiple matches for big-name players. Verdasco, who advanced as the winner of group five, has won his first two matches since being forced to retire from a first-round match against Frenchman Fabrice Santoro on February 13 at Marseille because of a left foot injury. German eighth seed Benjamin Becker defeated three-time French Open champion Gustavo Kuerten 6-4, 6-3. But the Brazilian wild card still has a chance to advance by beating Czech Jan Hernych on Thursday. Fourth seed Jurgen Melzer eliminated Frenchman Michael Llodra 6-4, 2-6, 7-5 but the Austrian still must defeat Chilean qualifier Paul Capdeville on Thursday to advance. Wild card Sam Querrey eliminated French sixth seed Julien Benneteau 6-2, 7-6 (7/3). The American will face compatriot Paul Goldstein on Thursday to decide a quarter-final berth. Russia’s Igor Kunitsyn eliminated Austrian Stefan Koubek 6-2, 6-2 but must defeat third-seeded compatriot Marat Safin on Thursday to reach the last eight. the winner of that match will face Verdasco.

The Spaniard will play Briton Tim Henman for the right to advance out of group seven. American Vincent Spadea, who lost to second-seeded Australian Lleyton Hewitt in his opening match, pulled out of the event with a left ankle injury just prior to his scheduled second match against Thomas Johansson. The Swede easily beat lucky loser Lu Yen-Hsun of Taiwan 6-0, 6-1 and will play Hewitt on Thursday for a quarter-final berth.