Fate smiled on second-seeded Nicolas Almagro as he weathered a tricky quarter-final against fellow Spaniard Daniel Gimeno-Traver at the SkiStar Swedish open in Bastad.
Had a first set tie-break gone the other way, Almagro would have been staring into the abyss against his unseeded opponent, who rallied to take the second set 6-4. However, the Murcian regained his composure and finished the match with a comfortable 6-3 in the final set.
Almagro’s semi-final opponent will be Czech player Jan Hajek, who exchanged sets with Estonian Jurgen Zopp in his quarter-final match-up. Hajek took the first set 6-3 before being pegged back by a feisty Zopp who seemed unwilling to make the trip back across Baltic Sea without a fight, taking the second set 6-4.
Zopp was only prolonging the inevitable though; a 6-3 victory for Jan Hajek in the third set called time on the plucky Estonian’s Swedish adventure.
Hajek will now be hoping to notch up a second title for the season – the first time the 28 year old has done so since 2009 – although a tough match against Almagro stands between him and a place in the final.
Currently 10th in the world, Almagro will have the scent of blood in his nostrils after a sometimes shaky performance against Gimeno-Traver and will be hot favourite when the two meet in tomorrow’s semi.