Top seed Tomas Berdych was stunned in his opening match Thursday at the St. Petersburg Open by 63rd ranked Simone Bolelli of Italy 7-6(5), 6-4. Bolelli was the beneficiary of five double faults from Berdych and converted two of his four break points to defeat the world number five. The win was Bolelli’s third over Berdych in eight meetings. It will be a tough loss for Berdych to accept, as his numbers of both serve and return were better than Bolelli’s. However, Bolelli took his chances, converting an extra break point and was solid in the first set tiebreak. Bolelli will face Joao Sousa in the quarter-finals, who defeated Marcel Granollers in straight sets.
Unlike Berdych, second seed Milos Raonic was untroubled in his first match since limping out the US Open in the third round. At the US Open, Raonic struggled with back pain which severely limited his ability to move and serve. However, those back problems appeared to be gone on Thursday in St. Petersburg, as he easily defeated Evgeny Donskoy 6-4, 6-4. Raonic was back to his traditionally dominant self on serve, winning 82 percent of service points and striking thirteen aces. He only faced one break point in the match, which he saved. He was two for eight at break point on Donskoy’s serve.
Raonic will play Tommy Robredo in the quarter-finals, who defeated Marcos Baghdatis in straight sets on Thursday. After a tight first set which required a tiebreak, Robredo rolled through his Cypriot opponent, taking the set 6-1. Raonic has never lost to Robredo in four previous meetings. The pair has only played once on hard courts, earlier this year in Indian Wells, which Raonic won 6-3, 6-2. However, Robredo pushed Raonic to three sets in their most recent match on clay in Monte Carlo.
Fourth seed Roberto Bautista Agut survived a tight three-set battle with unseeded Russian Teymuraz Gabashvili, saving three match points when Gabashvili served for the match at 5-3 in the third set, eventually coming out on top 6-3, 5-7, 7-5. Bautista Agut had led by a set and a break in the second, but Gabashvili roared back to put himself in a position to claim the match in the third, only for the momentum to swing back to the Spaniard, who would win the last four games in a row to take the match. Both players struggled on serve, with both players winning between 50-60 percent on second serve and break points, as well as Gabashvili’s second serve. Bautista Agut will play Lucas Pouille in the quarter-finals after the Frenchman defeated Poland’s Jerzy Janowicz in two tiebreaks.
The last quarter-final will pit third seed Dominic Thiem against Denis Istomin, who roared back to defeat Benjamin Becker 2-6, 7-6(5), 6-4.