Stuttgart (Germany) (AFP) – Holder Lucas Pouille overcame a nervous second-set to reach the Stuttgart Cup semi-finals on Friday with a 6-4, 6-7 (5/7), 6-3 victory over Uzbek Denis Istomin.
The Frenchman, who beat Feliciano Lopez in last year’s final on the Stuttgart grass, will next face one of two Wimbledon finalists.
Tomas Berdych competed in the All England club title match in 2010 while Canadian Milos Raonic reached it in 2016.
“Both guys are tough, especially on grass,” the 17th-ranked Pouille said. “I don’t care whom I play, I’m looking forward to the match.”
Pouille, coached by Germany’s former ATP number two Tommy Haas, had to regain his poise after losing the second set against Istomin, ranked 100th.
“I had a few nerves near the end of the second set, but I still managed to serve well. He was playing well and pushing me back.
“After I lost the second, I was still confident. In the third I played again like I did in the first set.
“I think I did a great third set.”
Pouille completed his win in a shade over two hours with 20 aces to five for his opponent. He converted on two of his dozen break chance in the tightly wound victory, saving all four break points he faced.
Pouille has negative records against both Berdych and Raonic, losing the Czech at 2016 Wimbledon and going down twice that year to the Canadian on hardcourt in Australia.
Top seed Roger Federer was playing later, taking on Argentine Guido Pella. Federer needs to reach the final here to replace Rafael Nadal on the top ATP ranking.