ROTTERDAM, Netherlands (AFP) - Former winner Tomas Berdych crushed defending champion Martin Klizan 6-3, 6-3 to set up a Rotterdam World Tennis semi-final with France's Jo-Wilfried Tsonga on Friday (Feb 17).
The fourth seed will play for a spot in the finals at the Ahoy stadium on Saturday when he takes on Tsonga, who upset top seed Marin Cilic 7-6 (10/8), 7-6 (7/5) in two hours.
The Czech won the 2014 title in the Dutch port city beating Cilic, while back in 2011 Tsonga lost to Swede Robin Soderling in the final.
Berdych also beat Tsonga in the first week of the year in Doha, but was badly mauled by Roger Federer at the Australian Open third round, which he cannot put out of mind.
"It's hard to accept a third-round loss at a Grand Slam," the 13th-ranked Berdych said. "That made my start of the season tougher.
"I've played well in Australia over the last few seasons and now I'm the guy chasing, I have to make it up at other tournaments, that's what I'm missing this year.
Berdych lost just five points on serve as he overwhelmed Klizan.
"Tsonga is a great player, another tall guy trying to play aggressive," said Berdych.
"But the most important thing will be my game plan and how I execute it. It doesn't matter whom the opponent is."
Berdych has now reached the semi-finals in Rotterdam for a fourth time after also finishing runner-up to Stan Wawrinka in 2015.
Tsonga characterised his winning effort over Cilic as "a good match".
"I played some of my best tennis. If I keep playing like this I have possibilities to go further, I have my chances now to go to the final again."