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Monaco Overcomes Almagro; Haas Reaches Final

Hamburg, Germany

World No. 14 Juan Monaco reached his second ATP World Tour final in as many weeks on Saturday as he overcame top-seeded Spaniard Nicolas Almagro 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 in the semi-finals of the bet-at-home Open - German Tennis Championships 2012 in Hamburg.

The Argentine, who was a finalist at last week’s MercedesCup in Stuttgart (l. to Tipsarevic), recorded his third win in seven meetings with Almagro in just over two hours. He converted five of his eight break point chances and won 63 per cent of points on serve.

"I’m very happy with the way I played today," said Monaco. "I played a great match to beat Almagro, the top seed and a Top 10 player. I’m very happy about that and getting through to the final."

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The 28-year-old Monaco is bidding to win his third ATP World Tour clay-court title of the season. The Tandil native was victorious at the VTR Open (d. Berlocq) in Vina del Mar in February and two months later lifted the trophy at the US Men's Clay Court Championship (d. Isner) in Houston. He has a 30-10 match record on the season.

The No. 10-ranked Almagro was also chasing a second successive ATP World Tour final, having finished runner-up to David Ferrer at last week’s SkiStar Swedish Open in Bastad. The Spaniard dropped to a 46-15 match record in 2012, highlighted by titles at the Brasil Open 2012 (d. Volandri) in Sao Paulo and the Open de Nice Côte d’Azur (d. Baker).

 In the final Monaco will face home favourite Tommy Haas, who finished strongly to dismiss fourth-seeded Croatian Marin Cilic 7-6(7), 6-0 in just under two hours. The German dropped just five points on serve in the second set and broke Cilic four times in total.

"Tommy is an old player but very experienced and he will be the hero of the crowd," said Monaco, looking ahead. "So, it’s going to be a difficult match."

The 34-year-old Haas began the season ranked outside the Top 200, but has surged back into the Top 50 at No. 49 in the South African Airways ATP Rankings, aided by winning his first ATP World Tour title in three years at the Gerry Weber Open in Halle (d. Federer).

"The second set was a little bit unexplainable for me," said Haas. "The first set was really crucial. There were a lot of opportunities for us both. I started serving a little bit better in the second set and brought it home."

Looking ahead to the final against Monaco, Haas said. "Clay is his favourite surface. He's been one guy who keeps climbing the ladder in the rankings. He's a very good competitor, moves well. So I'm going to have to play on top of my game. I've got home court advantage for sure, which sometimes can bring out the best in you. Hopefully that will happen."

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© Christian Pfander

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