Anderson to face Benneteau in Sydney semis

The towering Kevin Anderson became the first South African to reach the semi-finals of the Sydney International in nine years with victory over Denis Istomin.

The 36th-ranked Anderson accounted for the Uzbek 6-4, 6-3 in 84 minutes and will face last year's finalist Julien Benneteau of France in Friday's last four.

The last South African to reach the final four was Wayne Ferreira.

Anderson, who is 6 feet 8 inches (2.03 metres) tall, is bidding to claim his third ATP title after victories in Delray Beach and Johannesburg.

"It's always good to start the year off on a good note," he said.

"It's still just the second tournament and my sights are set on the Australian Open, but this is a great opportunity for me. I'm really pleased to be in the semi-finals."

Anderson, 26, is coming off a successful week at the mixed-teams Hopman Cup in Perth for South Africa, where he beat Fernando Verdasco and John Isner.

"I've had a really good off-season. Practised hard. I think the Hopman Cup was a fantastic event," he said. "I felt it was a great opportunity for some very good preparation.

"Coming into Sydney, I've had some good matches under my belt from last week and I've been able to keep that going. I've felt better with each match."

Benneteau, who lost to Finland's Jarkko Nieminen in last year's final, was too strong for American qualifier Ryan Harrison, winning 6-4, 6-2.

Benneteau discovered on Thursday that he would be the beneficiary of American John Isner's injury-enforced withdrawal from the Australian Open. The 35th-ranked Frenchman was elevated to the 32nd and last seeding.

"For sure it's better (to be seeded) but it doesn't mean that you are going to win some matches at the Australian Open," he said.

Australian youngster Bernard Tomic takes on Nieminen and Italian third seed Andreas Seppi faces eighth seed Marcel Granollers of Spain later Thursday.

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