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Monaco Ends Pospisil Challenge, Faces Nishikori Next

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Monaco© Malaysian Open Kuala Lumpur 2012Juan Monaco dismissed Vasek Pospisil for a place in the semi-finals.

Second seed Juan Monaco ended first-time ATP World Tour quarter-finalist Vasek Pospisil’s challenge on Friday at the Malaysian Open, Kuala Lumpur as he reached his sixth semi-final of the season with a 6-3, 6-4 victory.

The Argentine broke serve three times and fended off both the break point chances he faced to prevail in 84 minutes. The No. 122-ranked Pospisil had made his breakthrough this week with victory over eighth seed Jurgen Melzer in the first round and qualifier Michael Yani on Wednesday. He dropped to a 0-7 record against Top 20 players.

"I played very well, I can't complain," said Monaco. "I think I served very well and I was very focussed in important games and important points. I'm very happy with the way I played."

The 28-year-old Monaco, who is currently joint 12th in the South African Airways ATP Rankings Race To London, improved to a 35-15 match record on the season. The Tandil native is chasing his fourth ATP World tour title of the year after three clay-court victories in Vina del Mar (d. Berlocq), Houston (d. Isner) and Hamburg (d. Haas).

Monaco goes onto face Japanese No. 3 seed Kei Nishikori, who was leading 6-4 when his opponent, Nikolay Davydenko, was forced to withdraw with an adductor strain.

"I played good today, even though he retired," said Nishikori. "It was tough to see. In the first set I was playing with a lot of confidence, making almost every ball on his serve."

Looking ahead to his clash with Monaco, Nishikori said, "We've been practising a lot because we are playing doubles together next week. Sometimes it's tough to play friends. He's been playing well this year, reached the Top 10, but I have nothing to lose and will try to play like today."

The 22-year-old Nishikori reached his first ATP World Tour semi-final of the season at the seventh attempt, having lost all six of his quarter-finals thus far in 2012, including at the Australian Open in January (l. to Murray). He improved to a 30-16 match record. The Shimane native was also a semi-finalist in Kuala Lumpur last year, falling to Janko Tipsarevic.

Seventh seed Julien Benneteau dismissed Colombia’s Alejandro Falla 6-2, 6-2 in 58 minutes to reach his third semi-final of the season. The Frenchman, who was runner-up to Jarkko Nieminen at the Apia International Sydney in January, claimed his 24th win of the season as he dropped just seven points on serve and broke Falla on four occasions.

"I just tried to stay focussed on my game and what I needed to do," said Benneteau. "Today I played very good technically. I wanted to be the one who was decisive on the court and it was a good match." 

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