- Associated Press - Friday, October 17, 2014

MOSCOW (AP) - U.S. Open champion Marin Cilic reached the semifinals of the Kremlin Cup on Friday by beating Tommy Robredo 6-3, 6-3.

Cilic is looking to reach his fifth final of the year and the Croatian will face Mikhail Kukushkin of Kazakhstan, who upset seventh-seeded Mikhail Youzhny of Russia 1-6, 7-6 (5), 6-0.

Cilic said he played much better than in his three-set win against qualifier Evgeny Donskoy in the previous round.

“I think today’s match was a level higher in everything, in movement, in groundstrokes and especially the serve,” he said.

In Kukushkin, he faces an opponent who is historically strong on Moscow’s relatively slow hard courts, having reached the final of the Kremlin Cup last year.

“He’s the kind of player who likes to be aggressive but plays flat a lot and when he’s hot he can be very dangerous,” Cilic said. “I’m going to have to be controlling much more rallies.”

In the other semifinal, third-seeded Latvian Ernests Gulbis meets Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut.

Gulbis won his quarterfinal 7-6 (6), 4-6, 7-6 (3) against Italy’s Andreas Seppi, the 2012 Kremlin Cup champion, while the fifth-seeded Bautista Agut beat Lithuanian qualifier Ricardas Berankis 7-5, 6-3.

Gulbis continues to struggle with a shoulder injury but said that it “was more or less fine” as he beat Seppi.

The two highest-seeded players left in the women’s draw met in the quarterfinals as No. 4 Lucie Safarova won 6-4, 7-5 against No. 5 Svetlana Kuznetsova.

“I’m feeling good here. I really like playing indoors,” Safarova said. “I’ve played well in my first two matches here and I’m looking forward to tomorrow. I hope I can keep improving my play with every match here.”

Safarova’s semifinal opponent is Romania’s Irina-Camelia Begu, who bounced back from a first-set thrashing to beat Bulgarian Tsvetana Pironkova 1-6, 6-3, 6-2.

The other semifinal pits Russia’s sixth-seeded Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova against 18-year-old Katerina Siniakova of the Czech Republic, who won her first-ever WTA tour quarterfinal.

Pavlyuchenkova struggled to a 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 win over Russian qualifier Vitalia Diatchenko after Siniakova had come through a three-hour battle against Italy’s Camila Giorgi, winning 7-6 (3), 4-6, 7-5.


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