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Del Potro Beats Former Titlist Montanes; Gasquet, Wawrinka In SFs

Estoril, Portugal

Gasquet© Lagos SportsRichard Gasquet was runner-up to Novak Djokovic in the 2007 final.

Top seed and defending champion Juan Martin del Potro beat seventh seed and 2009-2010 titlist Albert Montanes 6-2, 6-2 on Friday for a place in the Estoril Open semi-finals.

"I think I played better than yesterday and my confidence is growing," said del Potro. "It is important for this tournament and the next tournaments I play. I think I am playing better than I did in the last Davis Cup tie. The Estoril crowd support me and that helps."

In the pair's first meeting for more than six years, del Potro took a 2-0 lead in the first set, before losing the early advantage. He broke Montanes three times in the 40-minute set.

From 1-1 in the second set, there were three straight service breaks, before del Potro regained control to seal his 25th win in 31 matches this year. The World No. 12 is playing his first clay-court tournament of the year. He lifted his 10th ATP World Tour title on the indoor hard courts of the Open 13 in Marseille (d. Llodra).

World No. 69 Montanes dropped to 7-10 on the season after losing the 78-minute encounter under sunny skies on Central Court at the Estadio Nacional.

Del Potro goes onto meet third seed Stanislas Wawrinka, who improved to 4-0 lifetime against sixth seed Robin Haase of the Netherlands with a 6-1, 6-4 victory in just 58 minutes.

The No. 2 Swiss led 3-1 in the second set, before Haase fought back to 4-4 only to be broken in the ninth game. Wawrinka has an 11-4 record on red dirt in 2012, including two other semi-final runs at the Copa Claro in Buenos Aires (l. to Almagro) and the Abierto Mexicano Telcel in Acapulco (l. to Verdasco).

France's Richard Gasquet is one match win away from reaching his second Estoril Open final. The second-seeded Frenchman defeated Spaniard qualifier Daniel Munoz-De La Nava 7-6(1), 6-2 and goes onto meet another Iberian, fourth seed Albert Ramos. Gasquet was runner-up to Novak Djokovic in the 2007 final. He is now 13-8 on the season.

Ramos reached his third ATP World Tour semi-final (or better) of the season when he ended Portuguese interest at the ATP World Tour 250 clay-court event with a 6-2, 6-3 win over World No. 140 Joao Sousa in 88 minutes. Ramos, who has an 18-12 match record this year (13-6 on clay), reached the Grand Prix Hassan II final in Casablanca (l. to Andujar) last month.

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