The three top men's seeds reached the
semi-finals of the Portugal Open Friday as news of the death of ATP
chief executive Brad Drewett arrived in Europe.
Number one Spaniard David Ferrer, second seed Stanislas Wawrinka and number three Italian Andrea Aseep all moved into the final four on the grim day in the men's tennis world.
Drewett, 54, a former player and head of the organization since January 2012, died in Sydney from motor neuron disease, a condition that was made public in January.
Ferrer, who lost last week in Barcelona as the top seed in his opening match, appeared desperate to join a long line of Spaniards who have poached the neighboring clay title over the past two decades.
The top seed came from 4-2 in the second set as he beat Romanian Victor Hanescu 6-4, 7-6 (7-2) in what the winner called a tough afternoon's work.
"Victor played very well, and despite being better than the first day, I was lucky in the second set in some important moments," Ferrer said.
Swiss Wawrinka duplicated his 2012 semi as he ended the dream of Portuguese wild card, number 113 Gastao Elias, 6-4, 6-4.
"He played quite well, has all the shots and is a good player," the winner said, "but I'm very happy to reach the semi-finals again. I'm playing well, better than I did here last year."
Seppi beat Spain's eighth seed Tommy Robredo 6-4, 6-3 to next take on Ferrer while Wawrinka is to play 229th-ranked outsider Pablo Carreno-Busta, a Spanish qualifier who beat Italian fourth seed Fabio Fognini 3-6, 6-4, 6-4.
Wawrinka holds an 11-4 record on clay this season.
In the women's draw, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova had to gather her resources for a quick turnaround with the third seed defeating Swiss Romina Oprandi 0-6, 6-3, 6-1 for a place in the first clay final of her career.
Pavlyuchenkova - coached by five-time Grand Slam winner Martina Hingis and winner of four career title on hard court, three of them in Monterrey, Mexico - said she was still tired from a win 24 hours earlier, which took nearly three hours.
The number 19 is to play Saturday for the trophy against Spain's Carla Suarez Navarro, who won a replay of the 2012 final but reversed the outcome with a defeat of holder Kaia Kanepi 6-4, 6-1 in 66 minutes.
Suarez Navarro would be playing her second final of the season after Acapulco and would become the fifth Spanish champion should she lift the title.
Kanepi donated seven double-faults in her 66-minute loss.
"I did have last year's final in my mind," Suarez Navarro said. "She started strong, and I was a bit nervous. I served well and kept my intensity in the important moments."
Pavlyuchenkova admitted she could use either an ice bath or a sleep after her two tough days on court.
"I didn't recover well, but I'm happy with how I responded," she said. "I turned it around, kept believing and kept playing my game."
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