Olivier Rochus rallies, reaches semis

Updated: January 12, 2012, 8:56 AM ET
Associated Press

AUCKLAND, New Zealand -- Belgian veteran Olivier Rochus rallied from a break down in the third set to beat Benoit Paire 6-3, 6-7 (5), 7-6 (4) Thursday, ending the French qualifier's giant-killing run at the Heineken Open.

The 30-year-old Rochus, a former finalist in Auckland, trailed 4-2 in the deciding set but recovered to win in a tiebreak. Paire had beaten former world No. 1 Juan Carlos Ferrero and fourth-seeded Juan Ignacio Chela in his first two main-draw matches.

Paire dominated at times but the dogged Rochus kept fighting, winning the match to set up a semifinal against eighth-seeded Philipp Kohlschreiber.

Kohlschreiber, the 2008 champion, reached the Auckland semifinals for the third time with 7-6 (5), 6-4 win over second-seeded Nicolas Almagro.

Rochus won the first set against Paire in 37 minutes after a break in the second game. Paire, who has become a crowd favorite for his flamboyant style, looked tired early on in his sixth game after winning three matches in qualifying and two in the main draw.

Rochus dropped serve in the sixth game of the second set, but immediately broke back, taking the set to 6-5 when rain forced the players from the court for 2½ hours.

Paire took the second set tiebreak 7-5, winning the set in 54 minutes with a mix of powerful serves, volleys and drop shots.

He hit down 10 aces in the third set alone and, after breaking Rochus in the first game, held for a 4-2 lead. But Rochus broke back to tie the set at 4-4 and to send it into another tiebreak, which he was able to control.

"I think after the rain we both played much better than before," Rochus said. "I think even if I had lost I couldn't have played any better. We both played 100 percent and from the baseline we both played to our best level."

Kohlschreiber took the first set from world No. 10 Almagro in 53 minutes. He then broke Almagro in the last game of the second set to clinch the match.

"It was not the best season for me last year so I'm very happy to beat such a good player," Kohlschreiber said.

Third-seeded Fernando Verdasco was due to play doubles partner Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, and top-seeded David Ferrer was to play Colombia's Alejandro Falla later Thursday.


Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press

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