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Almagro Closing On Fifth Final Of Year

Hamburg, Germany

Almagro© Bongarts/Getty ImagesNicolas Almagro is one victory away from reaching his fifth clay-court final of the season.

World No. 14 Nicolas Almagro is one victory away from reaching his fifth ATP World Tour final of the season.

The third seed, one of five Spaniards in the Top 25 of the South African Airways 2011 ATP Rankings, defeated local favourite Florian Mayer 7-6(5), 7-6(3) in one hour and 49 minutes Friday for a place in the semi-finals  at the bet-at-home Open - German Tennis Championships 2011.

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Almagro has held 30 of his 33 service games this week at the ATP World Tour 500 clay-court tournament. He hit 13 aces and won 66 per cent of his service points.

“When you play with a local player, it’s a little bit difficult with the support, but I’m happy with my tennis today,” he said. “I think I played a really good match, was really focused on my game all the time.”

The 25 year old has an ATP World Tour-best 29-7 season mark on red dirt. He has a 3-1 record in title-matches this year, including successes at the Movistar Open in Costa do Sauipe (d. Dolgopolov), the Copa Claro in Buenos Aires (d. Chela), the Open de Nice Côte d'Azur (d. Hanescu). He was also runner-up at the Abierto Mexicano Telcel in Acapulco (l. to Ferrer).

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Almagro will next meet fellow Spaniard and No. 8 seed Fernando Verdasco, who knocked out second-seeded Jurgen Melzer 6-3, 2-6, 6-4 in two hours and eight minutes. Verdasco took advantage of four of his eight break point opportunities to improve to a 6-2 head-to-head record against last year's Hamburg finalist.

Former World No. 7 Verdasco, currently No. 22 in the South African Airways 2011 ATP Rankings, will be looking to reach his third ATP World Tour final of the season. He posted runner-up finishes in San Jose (l. to Raonic) and Estoril (l. to del Potro).

Verdasco has defeated Almagro in three of their previous four meetings, all which have come on clay, but Almagro won their most recent clash in 2010 at Roland Garros.

“Against Nicolas, it’s always good matches – very close and tough, difficult matches,” said Verdasco. “We are friends, we know each other a lot, we’re almost from the same age. For sure, I think it will be a great game.”

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