Isner to face Monaco in Houston SFs, Almagro also through

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Seeded players Nicolas Almagro, John Isner and Juan Monaco are through to the semifinals at Houston 2013 clay-court ATP tournament.

Top seed Spaniard Almagro defeated seventh-seeded Paolo Lorenzi of Italy. He escaped a double break ball threat in the third game of the opener and then pounced on the Italian when the latter was serving to keep the set alive at 5-4. Almagro took the advantage after 40-40 and efficiently converted the set ball number one. Things got worse for Lorenzi in the second set as he fell 0-3 behind, yet he finally managed to steal his rival’s serve and confirmed the break to make it 4-4. Two games later the Italian was serving to stay in the match, but fell short again which enabled Almagro to wrap the proceedings up and achieve a 6-4, 6-4 straight sets victory.

His semifinal opponent will be 22-year-old American Rhyne Williams who sent home Spanish veteran Ruben Ramirez Hidalgo. The result: 7-6 (1), 1-6, 6-4.

Last year’s finalist Isner has found more than a worthy opponent in unseeded Lithuanian Ricardas Berankis who ousted Tommy Haas in the previous round. The serving was spotless in the opener with the exception of the sixth game where the fifth-seeded American created the only break ball of the set and tucked it away – he closed out the set without any difficulties a few games later. The set number two resembled the first time, yet this time it was Berankis who seized a break late in the set and confirmed it to level the terms and force a decider. There was not much to separate the players in the final set either – Isner did not gift any break ball opportunities to Berankis and was able to capitalize on his challenger’s loss of serve in the fourth game. The US player thus moved into the Houston semis after a 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 win, smashing 19 aces along the way.

The quarterfinal clash between third seed Argentine Monaco and 283rd-ranked domestic player Robby Ginepri lasted less than an hour with the seeded player winning all of the games after 1-1 in the opening set. Monaco won 80% of service points and 62% of return points, while he converted 5 out of his 8 break balls. End score: 6-1, 6-0. He will face Isner in the US Men’s Clay Court Championship semis.

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