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Tennis: Berdych battles into Bangkok final with Simon defeat

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Top seed Tomas Berdych struggled for nearly three hours before finally defeating Frenchman Gilles Simon 6-7 (5/7), 6-2, 7-5 on Saturday to reach the final of the Thailand Open.

World number six Berdych will play his third final of the season on Sunday when he faces the winner from second seed and holder Richard Gasquet of France and the big-hitting Canadian third seed Milos Raonic.

The Czech had his troubles with the game of the 14th-ranked Simon, who lost the 2012 final to countryman Gasquet.

Berdych is looking for his first title since Stockholm last October -- he is currently the lone member of the ATP top 10 without a trophy this season.

The match required a marathon effort from Berdych, who lost the opening set after 74 minutes.

Simon, known for long matches and extended passages of play, did not stray from type as he made his opponent work for the win.

After being treated on court for back pain on Friday, Simon did not use his courtside chair during changeovers in the Berdych match.

"I was a bit unlucky in the first set," said Berdych, winner of his third match from eight played against Simon. "I stuck to my tactics, which had been successful.

"I just tried to keep going in the same way, used the same strategy - it was a good option in the end."

The top seed squared the match at a set each but had to keep up the pressure in the third before finally getting past the Frenchman who beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga late week for the Metz title.

Berdych ended with 18 aces and six breaks of serve, saving 11 of the 14 break points he faced.

"With Gilles you always expect a long match, that is his game. He likes long rallies. I tried to deal with that," Berdych said. "In the end it was very close but finally my serve helped me out and I was able to finish the win."

The Czech, playing in his seventh semi-final of the year and third in Bangkok after 2007-08, had lost his past three meetings against Simon.

Berdych beat Raonic in their only previous meeting and trails Gasquet 5-3 in their career series.

"This is my third final of the season, so fingers crossed," said Berdych. "I need to do what is best for my body now and try to recover. I want to be strong and ready for the final."

str/jta

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130928/tennis-berdych-battles-bangkok-final-simon-defeat