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Monaco Sets Houston Re-Match With Isner; Almagro Advances

Houston, U.S.A.

Williams© Aaron M. Sprecher/ROCCRhyne Williams advanced to his first ATP World Tour semi-final.

Reigning champion Juan Monaco will square off against John Isner on Saturday at the US Men's Clay Court Championship in a re-match of last year’s Houston final.

The third-seeded Monaco blitzed qualifier Robby Ginepri 6-1, 6-0 in just 56 minutes Friday evening to book his place in the semi-finals. Monaco did not face a break point and broke the American five times to win their first meeting in five years.

“From the beginning, I had a good feeling. I was serving well,” said Monaco. “Every game I got more confident. I played very well. Maybe Robby didn't have a good day. I have great memories on this court.

“John is a great player. I'll have to play like today or even better tomorrow if I want to beat him. I have to be focused. When I get the opportunity, I can't miss it. I have to be ready.”

Monaco, who entered the event without a tournament win this season, will aim to level his FedEX ATP Head2Head series with Isner. The fifth seed returned to the last four with a 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 victory over Ricardas Berankis. Isner cracked 19 aces and won 89 per cent of his first serve points to advance past the Lithuanian in 83 minutes.

In the other semi-final, top seed Nicolas Almagro will face 144th-ranked Rhyne Williams.

World No. 12 Almagro defeated seventh seed Paolo Lorenzi 6-4, 6-4, capitalising on all three of his break point chances to seal the win in 81 minutes. The Spaniard improved to 2-0 against Lorenzi, adding to his first-round victory over the Italian at Roland Garros last year. Almagro is seeking his 13th career title on his Houston debut. All of his previous 12 triumphs have come on clay.

Williams topped Ruben Ramirez Hidalgo 7-6(1), 1-6, 6-4, overcoming a break deficit in the third set to prevail in two hours and 28 minutes. The 22-year-old American entered the week with one tour-level win in six matches.

“The first set was pretty physical. Something I really need to work on to get to the next level is my fitness,” said Williams. “Luckily, I got a second wind in the third set. I kept fighting and hung in there.”

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