Defending champion David Ferrer secured his place in the semifinals of the Erste Bank Open with a battling win over Viktor Troicki, 6-3, 3-6, 7-5. Ferrer will now face off against Andy Murray for a place in the final.
The world number 19 battled through a brutal opening game to begin the match and secured one break to seal the opening set. Troicki raised his level in the second set and finally broke through on the serve of Ferrer to force a decider. The Serbian looked to be rolling into the semifinals as he secured the early break and hung on to it long enough to serve for the match. However, Ferrer powered his way through four straight games to go from 3-5 to 7-5 and secure a place in the semifinals.
Defending champion in charge
Ferrer saved two break points as he served first to begin the match, coming through a grueling nine-minute game with some great exchanges already between the pair. Troicki had a much easier time on serve as he cruised through to level the pair up. There was no repeat of the troubles of the opening game as Ferrer served again and this time came through a much more straightforward hold to go ahead on the scoreboard at 2-1.
A nightmare start to Troicki's next service game gave Ferrer three break points. Ferrer's defending and ability to make his opponent come up with an extra shot troubled Troicki and the second break point went the way of the Spaniard. A love hold followed for Ferrer as Troicki gifted the Spaniard some cheap points to go 4-1 ahead.
Troicki came back to life as he took an easy hold and again started to battle hard on the return. A perfectly executed volley gave the Serbian a lead on return but Ferrer came out on top of a brutal baseline rally to level them up. The loss of that point halted Troicki's fightback and Ferrer secured an impressive hold to force his opponent to serve to stay in the set.
A quick hold came for Troicki that handed Ferrer the opportunity to serve for the set. After a couple of missed chances in the opening game of the set, there had been no signs of a break for the Serbian and Ferrer sailed through on serve again to secure the opening set 6-3.
The world number 28 began the second set with a convincing hold as good serving brought him through the first game with ease. Ferrer replied with a great hold of his own, a perfect drop shot followed by a forehand winner giving him game point, and Troicki showed his frustration as he missed a return to seal the hold for Ferrer. Great returning from Ferrer set him up with a 15-30 lead on the Troicki serve, but a punishing 35-stroke rally that went the way of the Serbian leveled them up. An ace gave Troicki a game point but Ferrer made a great chase down and was helped by the net as it pushed the ball over Troicki's racket and landed right on the baseline. The Serbian kept fighting, however, and used the serve-and-volley well to take the crucial hold and keep his hopes alive.
The pressure was on Ferrer in the next game as Troicki took a 0-30 lead on return. Another error from the Spaniard gave Troicki three break points, and only the one was needed as Ferrer hit the ball long to gift the break to the Serbian for 3-1. The break was easily consolidated as Troicki started to play with great confidence.
Troicki continued his confident play into the next game as he carved out another couple of break points with more impressive shotmaking. Ferrer was made to work extremely hard but eventually sealed the hold to keep it down to just the one break deficit. Good serving took Troicki a game away from leveling the match.
The holds still weren't coming easy for the defending champion but he secured another to ask the serve it out question of Troicki. Ferrer fought hard to try and steal the break back at the last moment, and although the first set point for Troicki was lost with a double fault, he recovered to take his second with a backhand winner.
Back from the brink
Troicki kept his momentum rolling into the first game of the second set as he quickly went 0-30 up on return. Ferrer missed an easy putaway volley to bring up double break point for the Serbian just moments later, and another error gifted the break and the crucial lead to Troicki. The Spaniard battled to earn a break point in the next game. Ferrer threw everything he had at Troicki to try and seal the break but the Serbian brought out his best to save it. Another break point arrived for Ferrer but it quickly disappeared as he hit a return long and Troicki took the next three points to hold and consolidate his lead. Ferrer cruised through on serve to earn his first hold of the deciding as he trailed 2-1.
There were more opportunities for Ferrer on the Troicki serve but again the Serbian fought for the hold in another long game. Both players were having to work hard for every point but Ferrer battled through another hold of serve to keep hope alive. Troicki was having the most difficulty on serve as Ferrer brought out his best to try and break back, but he somehow survived another onslaught from the Spaniard to keep his lead.
The defending champion was in danger again as Troicki fought for a 0-30 lead on return. Ferrer clawed back the deficit to level them at 30-30 but Troicki still managed to earn himself a break point. The chance came and went as another battling hold kept Ferrer in touch at 4-3.
Big first serves from Troicki saw him through yet another punishing game on serve as he went one game away from the win. The world number 28 earned himself a match point to wrap up the match on return but he netted a return after a huge serve from Ferrer and the defending champion kept hanging on.
Troicki began serving for the match with an ace but a forehand drifted long to level the pair at 15-15. Huge groundstrokes and a great return set Ferrer up with a lead and a smash winner gave the Spaniard two break points. Making no mistake this time around, the defending champion showed his intent in turning the match around with a huge backhand down the line winner to level the decider at 5-5. Ferrer held in another tense game to take the lead for the first time in the set.
Ferrer defended well to draw an error from Troicki and take a lead on the return. The Serbian earned a game point but a double fault put him in danger at deuce. A match point for Ferrer disappeared as quickly as it arrived as Troicki erased it with an ace and another was wasted as the Spaniard hit a forehand long. However, a forehand down the line winner gave Ferrer the win on his fourth match point and a place in the semifinals.