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Almagro Sets Monaco SF Clash; Haas Beats Mayer

Hamburg, Germany

Haas© AFP/Getty ImagesTommy Haas reached the Hamburg semi-finals for the first time since 1997.

Two of this season’s strongest clay-court performers will face off in the semi-finals of the bet-at-home Open - German Tennis Championships 2012 after top seed Nicolas Almagro and third seed Juan Monaco both recorded straight-sets wins on Friday in Hamburg.

World No. 10 Almagro improved to a 46-14 match record on the season (34-8 on clay) after defeating Germany’s Philipp Kohlschreiber 7-5, 7-5 in one hour and 37 minutes. The Spaniard capitalised on five of his ten break points and won 74 per cent of points behind his first serve.

"Today was a very tough match," said Almagro. "Philipp is a great player, he's playing really well right now. I'm happy with my tennis. I'm focussing on the things I need to do to beat my opponent. I am trying to play aggressively, serving well and returning very well."

The 26-year-old Almagro is coming off a runner-up showing at the SkiStar Swedish Open in Bastad (l. to Ferrer) and was victorious at the Brasil Open 2012 (d. Volandri) in Sao Paulo and the Open de Nice Côte d’Azur (d. Baker) earlier in the year.

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World No. 14 Monaco defeated France’s Jeremy Chardy 6-3, 7-5 to reach his fifth ATP World Tour semi-final of the season. The Argentine converted five of his nine break point chances to claim victory in one hour and 36 minutes.

"I'm really happy with the way I played today; I think it was my best match of the tournament," reflected Monaco. "I'm very happy with the way I've played on clay so far this year."

The 28-year-old Monaco improved to a 22-6 clay-court record in 2012. The Tandil native reached the final last week at the MercedesCup in Stuttgart (l. to Tipsarevic) and won two clay-court titles earlier in the season, triumphing at the VTR Open in Vina del Mar (d. Berlocq) and the US Men's Clay Court Championship in Houston (d. Isner).

In an all-German contest, wild card Tommy Haas dismissed seventh seed Florian Mayer 6-1, 6-4. The 34-year-old Haas saved all three break points he faced to claim his fourth win in four meetings with Mayer in 71 minutes.

"It's never easy playing him; he's got a tough game that is a little different style. It's very effective and I had to bring my best game today in order to win," said Haas.

World No. 49 Haas started the year outside the Top 200 in the South African Airways ATP Rankings, but has clawed his way back into the Top 50 after compiling an 18-8 match record. Last month he won his first title in three years with victory at the Gerry Weber Open (d. Federer) in Halle.

For a place in the final, Haas will face in-form Croatian, Marin Cilic, who defeated Spain’s Albert Ramos 6-4, 7-6(5) in one hour and 57 minutes. The fourth seed broke serve four times from seven opportunities to post his 25th win of the season.

"Some days you have to battle through, but I'm enjoying it and hopefully tomorrow I can play a good match," said Cilic. "[Haas] has played really well throughout the week. We played in the Munich semi-finals, which was a tough match. Here, he has the home support so it will be interesting."

The No. 15-ranked Cilic came into Hamburg having won his second title of the season at the ATP Vegeta Croatia Open Umag (d. Granollers). Last month he triumphed on grass at the AEGON Championships (d. Nalbandian) in London.

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