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Del Potro Beats The Dog; Almagro Ends Nishikori's Reign

Tokyo, Japan

Almagro© AFP/Getty ImagesNicolas Almagro is through to his sixth semi-finals of the season.

Juan Martin del Potro and Nicolas Almagro will play their first tour-level match on Saturday for a place in the Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships final.

Top seed and 2008 runner-up del Potro weathered a barrage of winners from Alexandr Dolgopolov to fight back for a 4-6, 6-4, 6-2 victory in two hours and seven minutes on Friday at the Ariake Coliseum.

The 25-year-old del Potro, who is in sixth position in the Emirates ATP Race to London for the eight-player season-ending Barclays ATP World Tour Finals in November, is through to his seventh semi-final of the season.

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Almagro ended Kei Nishikori’s bid to retain the Tokyo title mid-afternoon.

Almagro, who is currently in 14th position in the battle for one of the five remaining berths at The O2 in London from 4-11 November, disappointed Japanese supporters with a 7-6(2), 5-7, 6-3 victory in two hours and 14 minutes.

Fourth seed Nishikori took a 4-1 lead in the first set, but sixth seed Almagro fought back by producing some stunning groundstroke winners and clever net approaches that kept the fourth seed deep behind the baseline.    

Almagro opened up a 2-0 lead in the second set, but Nishikori took advantage of some unforced errors in the eighth game to break back. Buoyed with confidence, Nishikori then began to step into the court to hit his strokes and at 5-6, he clinched his third break point opportunity with a backhand return down the line to level the scoreline.

The third set went with serve to 3-3, before Almagro won three straight games. He broke serve for the fourth time to clinch his 35th match win of the season. 

Del Potro improved to 5-0 lifetime in his FedEx ATP Head2Head series against Dolgopolov and is now 38-12 on the year. He will be bidding to reach his fourth ATP World Tour final of the season (2-1 in finals) on Saturday.

His two titles have come at ATP World Tour 500 hard-court tournaments at the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam (d. Benneteau) and also the Citi Open in Washington (d. Isner). 

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© Hiroshi Sato

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