AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE
ESTORIL: Top seed Juan Martin del Potro and No 2 seed Richard Gasquet set up a duel for the Estoril Open championship on Saturday.
Holder Del Potro will attempt to retain his trophy after defeating Swiss third seed Stanislas Wawrinka 7-6 (7-2), 6-4. The winner had five aces but converted only one of his seven break points. Gasquet needed a work-out before coming to grips with the game of Spain’s Albert Ramos as the second seed advanced 2-6, 7-6 (7/1), 7-5.
Del Potro’s win-loss record for the season stands at 26-6 and he is playing his first ATP clay event of the spring. Wawrinka was playing a third clay semi-final of 2012 after two in February.
Gasquet’s marathon, lasting just over three hours, puts the 18th-ranked French into a second Estoril final. When he last played in Estoril, in 2007, he lost the final to then up-and-coming Serb Novak Djokovic.
Gasquet will be playing in his 15th career final on the ATP and trails Del Potro 1-3 in head-to-head encounters. The Swiss-based Gasquet stands 6-8 in ATP finals, winning his last trophy two years ago in Nice. His last final was in Gstaad two months later.
The second seed committed 16 errors in a sloppy opening set that 42nd-ranked Casablanca finalist Ramos won easily. But despite baseline battling from both men, Gasquet began to find his rhythm, making a match of it in the second set.
The Frenchman recovered an early break and dominated in the tie-break to level the sets at 1-1. The third set was drum-tight until Gasquet earned his only chance with a break for 6-5 with a winner at the net. Gasquet took the hard-fought victory a game later as Ramos put out a return on his first match point. Gasquet was playing his first semi-final since Rome a year ago.
Stosur off to flying start in Madrid
MADRID: US Open champion Samantha Stosur got off to a winning start at the Madrid Masters on Saturday, the Australian advancing with a 7-5, 4-6, 7-6 (7-5) defeat of Croatian Petra Martic. Stosur was joined by Romanian Sorana Cirstea, who upset French seventh seed Marion Bartoli 6-7 (6/8), 6-4, 6-3. French Open winner Li Na, the eighth seed, also made it through after dominating her opener against teenaged Madrid debutante Garbine Muguruza Blanco of Spain, who saved two match points before finally falling 6-2, 6-4. Unseeded Mona Barthel won an all-German battle, eliminating 2011 semi-finalist Julia Goerges 6-4, 6-1. Venus Williams, the losing finalist two years ago, was pushed hard by Romanian Simona Halep before winning 6-1, 4-6, 7-6 (8/6), while Spain’s Silvia Soler-Espinosa beat Austrian Tamira Paszek 6-7 (2/7), 6-2, 6-2.