KUALA LUMPUR: David Ferrer overcame a first set wobble to advance to the semi-finals of the ATP Malaysia Open along with second seed Juan Monaco, Kei Nishikori and Julien Benneteau at Putra Stadium yesterday.
Ferrer extended his winning streak over Igor Sijsling to three matches but the big-hitting Dutchman made life difficult for the World No 5 Spaniard, who needed to work hard for the 4-6 6-3 6-4 win.
Sijsling, the World No 97, making only his second quarter-final appearance on the tour this season, shook-off Ferrer in the first game and successfully held serve to win the first set.
But the high-intensity first set affected Sijsling as his knee was briefly treated without calling a time-out.
Ferrer, who is having his best season with five titles to his name, battled back with two break points for the second set.
It was a real battle in the deciding set as both players relied on power play but the experienced Ferrer did enough to sustain the rallies and won it in style by saving four break points in the final game in 124 minutes.
"I just tried to play consistently and maintained a high first serve percentage. I am feeling more tired with the season almost ending," said Ferrer.
The 30-year-old plays Frenchman Benneteau, the seventh seed, who thrashed Colombian Alejandro Falla 6-2, 6-2 in his quarter-final match.
"Benneteau is very good on hard court and I will try my best but of course I need to get a good rest," said Ferrer.
Benneteau said: "I have played against Ferrer seven times and won some. We are of the same age and we know each other's game."
Meanwhile, friendship will take the backseat when Monaco and Nishikori face-off in the semi-final today.
Monaco, the World No 11, and Nishikori, the third seed, hang-out a lot as the latter's coach, Dante Bottini is Argentinian. They often practice together and also share the same friends on the tour.
Monaco ended first-time tour quarter-finalist Vasek Pospisil's challenge as he reached his sixth semi-final of the season with a 6-3, 6-4 win over the Canadian.
As for Nishikori, the World No 17, was leading 6-4 when Russian Nikolay Davydenko was forced to withdraw with an adductor strain.
"We've been practicing a lot because we are playing doubles together in Tokyo next week. Sometimes it's tough to play friends," said Nishikori.
"He's been playing well this year, reached the top-10, but I have nothing to lose and will try to play like today (yesterday). I want to go right to the final and win the tournament."
Argentine Monaco, a clay-court specialist, had minimal practice on hard court before arriving in Kuala Lumpur but the 28-year-old has done well by winning only his second indoor match of the season.
"It will be a difficult match tomorrow (today) as Nishikori is a strong baseline player. I need to be prepared for the worst," said Monaco.
Singles quarter-finals: Juan Monaco (Arg) bt Vasek Pospisil (Can) 6-3 6-4; Kei Nishikori (Jpn) bt Nikolay Davydenko (Rus) 6-4 0-0 rtd; Julien Benneteau (Fra) bt Alejandro Falla (Col) 6-2 6-2, David Ferrer (Spa) bt Igor Sijsling (Hol) 4-6, 6-3, 6-4.
Doubles semi-finals: Colin Fleming-Ross Hutchins (Bri) bt Marius Fyrstenberg-Marcin Matkowski (Pol) 6-3, 7-6 (7-3)
Today's schedule -- Singles semi-finals: Kei Nishikori (Jpn) v Juan Monaco (Arg), Julien Benneteau (Fra) v David Ferrer (Spa)
Doubles semi-finals: Alexander Peya (Aut)-Bruno Soares (Bra) v Daniele Bracciali (Ita)-Marcelo Melo (Bra).