Slovakia’s Martin Klizan saved five match points to stun in-form Spanish sixth seed Roberto Bautista Agut 6-7 (5/7), 7-6 (8/6), 6-0 to make the Rotterdam World Tennis semi-finals.
Klizan was unaware of his impressive rearguard action against Bautista Agut, the winner of the Sofia title last week and who was bidding for a 15th match win of the season.
“I thought it was only two match points,” Klizan said. “All I could do out there was to fight on every point.”
Bautista Agut, ranked 17th, missed a chance for a straight-sets victory when he was broken for 5-5 in the second set despite saving four break points in the game. Klizan seized his chance, holding for 6-5 and won a tiebreaker to take the match into a deciding third set, where he dominated to love with the win in two and three-quarter hours.
Klizan will next face French qualifier Nicolas Mahut, who put out eighth seeded Viktor Troicki of Serbia, 6-2, 6-1.
Mahut, 34, was thrilled with his progress after beginning the event by playing in qualifying.
“Just over an hour, that is something I didn’t expect,” Mahut said after beating an opponent who was runner-up to Bautista Agut in Sofia. “I played well and it worked out as a good combination for me.”
Mahut, ranked 54th in the world, has a winning past in the Netherlands, earning a pair of trophies at the grass event at Rosmalen in 2013 and 2015. The Frenchman had lost both of his previous matches to Troicki.
At the top of the draw, second seed and former finalist Marin Cilic was beaten 3-6, 6-4, 6-4 by German Philipp Kohlschreiber.
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