“In the past few months I’ve played pretty good against the French guys,” Troicki said.

Viktor Troicki continued to be a nemesis for French players when he knocked out last year’s finalist Richard Gasquet in the quarterfinals of the Sydney International on Thursday. The Serbian fourth seed was too strong for Gasquet, winning 6-4, 6-4 in 77 minutes to set up a Friday semi-final with Germany’s Florian Mayer. Troicki became a national hero when he swept Serbia to an historic first Davis Cup title in easing past Michael Llodra in straight sets in the fifth and deciding rubber in Belgrade last month.

“In the past few months I’ve played pretty good against the French guys,” Troicki said. “Surprisingly I beat them in straight sets. “It’s going good and hopefully I can continue. It’s not easy to play against them, but for me, I guess it suits me.”

In Friday’s other semifinal Frenchman Gilles Simon will play Ernests Gulbis, the Latvian third seed. “I thought I had the match under control and I had a break in the second set,” Troicki said. “Richard started playing better and started playing some really great shots. “Luckily, at the end I broke him and served it out. So it was a tough one. I mean, he’s an ex-top 10 player.” Mayer cruised to a comfortable 6-4, 6-1 victory over Italian Potito Starace.

Simon, who was hindered by a persistent right knee injury for the first half of last year, wore down Ukraine’s Alexandr Dolgopolov 6-4, 6-3 to set up a last-four shot at Gulbis. Simon, who reached the quarterfinals of the 2009 Australian Open, continued his fine tournament after ousting Taiwan’s eighth seed Lu Yen-Hsun and Portugal’s Frederico Gil to line up against Gulbis. The former world number six said he was now trussing his right knee after suffering chronic inflammation which forced him out of last year’s French Open. “I’m really happy to play without any pain, because a lot of time I had something,” Simon said. “It’s now two months that I can work on it normally without thinking about it. I’m not thinking any more about where I’m going to put my feet or anything. Just run.”

Gulbis worked his way into the semi-finals after beating Ukraine’s Sergiy Stakhovsky 6-4, 6-4. Gulbis said he pulled up badly from his previous day’s win over Russian Igor Andreev. “Yesterday’s match killed me physically,” he said. “It was really humid and I lost a lot of fluids, so I went straight to the hotel and I went to sleep. I didn’t feel good. “This morning I didn’t know if I was going to be able to play, but at the start of the match I felt really good.

“I will do some treatment. I will go to have a bath, ice massage, whatever it takes. I’m going to be okay tomorrow. “I just can’t go really long matches (but) don’t tell Simon.” Gulbis is the top-ranked seed left in the Sydney draw, after Wednesday’s exit of US top seed Sam Querrey and the injury-enforced withdrawal of defending champion and second seed Marcos Baghdatis.


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