Czech tennis player Radek Stepanek beat Russia's Mikhail Youzhny in straight sets to become the first player to advance to the semifinals of the Paris Masters tournament in France.

Stepanek won the quarterfinal match-up 7-6, 6-3 Friday, to guarantee his best result of the season. The Czech player was knocked out in the quarterfinals of five tournaments earlier this year.

Later Friday, second-seeded Lleyton Hewitt of Australia plays number-six Marat Safin in a repeat of the 2002 final. Hewitt leads Safin 5-4 in head-to-head competition.

In the other quarterfinal matches, Feliciano Lopez of Spain challenges number-13 Guillermo Canas of Argentina, while Max Mirnyi of Belarus plays Robin Soderling of Sweden.