Tommy Haas had 24 unforced errors and still won the first set against Marat Safin at the L.A. Tennis Open Friday night.
Haas, the tournament's top-seeded player and a two-time champion, muttered and mumbled and changed shirts as if he were in a discount store dressing room, discarding one, then another and another.
But the ability to ignore his mishaps and mis-hits, his willingness to save three set points early and crank up his forehand late allowed the 31-year-old Haas to advance to this evening semifinal with a 7-6 (3), 6-2 win over the eighth-seeded Safin, who has said he will retire at the end of the season.
Haas is now 16-3 since May and two of his losses have come against top-ranked Roger Federer. (Remember that five-setter at the French Open?)
Up next for the 31-year-old German is local favorite and sixth-seeded Sam Querrey, who eliminated fourth-seeded Dudi Sela of Israel, 6-3, 7-5. That will be at 8 p.m.
For the 21-year-old Querrey, it is his third consecutive semifinal appearance since Wimbledon.
The afternoon semifinal is going to be between two men mostly unfamiliar to local fans, Leonardo Mayer of Argentina and Carsten Ball of Australia.
It does mean four continents will be represented in the singles semifinals, though.
Mayer benefited from the withdrawal of second-seeded Mardy Fish, who was unable to take the court because of an abdominal strain.
An injury also hampered 6-foot-9 American John Isner, who lost, 6-4, 6-4, to Ball, a qualifier who lives in Newport Beach and who is ranked No. 205 in the world. Isner turned an ankle during his Thursday match and struggled with his movement Friday afternoon.
Before this tournament Ball hadn't won an ATP Tour-level match.
Both Haas and Safin conducted loud monologues with themselves in various languages and from all the wild forehands and netted backhands it was pretty to easy to know that neither player was praising himself.
And in the first game of the second set, Safin flung his racket after a mis-hit and the Russian was lucky to have not decapitated a lines person. It was finally Haas who harnessed enough of his ground strokes to win the 1-hour 49-minute quarterfinal.
It took Fish, 27, zero minutes to decide his sore hip meant withdrawing Friday. He originally injured it in Davis Cup play last month and said, "It bothers me when I serve. If I was 20 or 21 years old I'd probably play. But I'm 27 and I want to be healthy."
Querrey got the key service break in the 11th game of the second set with the help of a break-point double fault from Sela, the Israeli Davis Cup star. Querrey won four straight points on his serve to win.
As for Mayer, he now plays in his first career semifinal. "I was ready to play, expecting a tough match against Mardy," Mayer said. "On the other hand, I am obviously very happy to reach my first ATP semifinal. I played a tough match [Thursday] and this day off will help me be ready."
Mayer also said he would like to become the second straight Argentine to win this title. Countryman Juan Martin Del Potro won here last year.
Patrons who had tickets to what turned into an abbreviated Friday day session can use them for either of today's two sessions.