Berdych joins the queue to try to stop Del Potro
Tokyo, Oct 4 (DPA) Czech Thomas Berdych upset second seed Andy Roddick 6-7 (3-7), 7-5, 7-6 (7-3) to set up a Sunday final at the Japan Open against unstoppable Argentine Juan Del Potro.
South American phenomenon Del Potro booked his fifth final from his past six ATP tournaments despite losing his first set of the week in a 6-3, 4-6, 7-5 defeat of 2007 finalist Richard Gasquet.
Roddick fired 25 aces, but Berdych, who lost a semi-final last week in Bangkok, ended the afternoon at the Ariake colosseum with his 17th after two hours, 13 minutes.
The Czech takes a 1-0 record over Del Potrto into the final after beating him two years ago.
'It's frustrating to be in control and then let it go,' said Roddick. 'But he can play good tennis and he showed that today. I'm not surprised.'
Roddick, who claimed an Asian title a week ago by winning Beijing, was denied a title shot in his first career event in Japan after breaking down in the second set.
The former number one dropped serve for 5-6 on a double-fault which resulted in a smashed racket as he went to the sidelines.
Berdych profited to bring on a third set, where the ninth seed recovered an early break with a break-back in ninth game.
As the match moved into a deciding tiebreaker, the Czech race away to Roddick's frustration. The American saved the first of five match points with an ace, followed by a smash before Berdych ended it all with his own concluding ace.
Argentine Del Potro has now claimed victories in 29 of his last 30 matches dating to July, earning four titles and a US Open quarter-final spot.
'This is not normal, but it is great,' he said of his streak. 'I changed my game this season and now the results are coming.
'I want to keep working and improve even more. I don't want to think about the possibility of winning again.'
Del Potro is making a strong run towards a place in the eight-man season-ending event in Shanghai next month with the last four places still to be decided.
The player who turned 20 last week fired 14 aces in his win in just over two hours over Gasquet, who turned in 15 while failing to convert on seven of his nine break points against the streaking Argentine.
Del Potro improved to 28-9 on the season as he bids for his fifth title of 2008 over the course of six ATP events.
His only recent loss came in the quarter-finals of the US Open to Andy Murray and was immediately followed up by two morale-boosting singles wins in the Davis Cup semi-finals last month at home over Russia.
'Del Potro is playing like a top five 5 player,' said Gasquet. 'He is hitting the ball so hard and making few errors. He's got a lot of confidence right now.'
Del Potro said his serve was his major weapon on the day: 'Every time I needed it, there it was, I could always count on it.'
Should he win the Tokyo title Sunday, Del Potro would move into Masters Cup range, standing eighth in the season points race and displacing slumping American James Blake.
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