Juan Martin del Potro beat Pablo Cuevas 6-2, 7-6 (8/6) to reach his second final of the season at the Estoril Open on Saturday, where Fernando Verdasco awaits after the Spanish player got past Milos Raonic.
Del Potro, the 2009 US Open champion, dropped only six points on his first serve and hit four aces, while Cuevas was unable to claim a single break chance against the fifth-seeded player.
Del Potro broke Cuevas’ serve twice in the first set, but failed on eight break chances in the second as his 65th-ranked opponent took it to a tiebreaker, where the Argentine saved a set point before converting his first match point to dispatch his Uruguayan opponent.
Verdasco’s lone break of hard-hitting Raonic’s serve was enough to secure the first set 6-4, before the Canadian player retired just after the start of the second set with a back injury. The 12th-ranked Verdasco had previously lost to Raonic in the final in San Jose and in Memphis.
Both players were on court for the second time on Saturday after rain then darkness had delayed their quarter-finals on Friday. Verdasco rallied to beat Kevin Anderson of South Africa 6-7 (2/7), 6-2, 6-3, while Raonic battled another rain delay to secure a hard-fought 7-6 (7/4), 4-6, 6-3 win over Frenchman Gilles Simon.
Del Potro, going for his ninth career title in his first clay-court event of the season, won in Delray Beach in February in his comeback from wrist surgery last year. Del Potro, currently No. 46, lost to Verdasco in San Jose when ranked No. 484.
Meanwhile, Anabel Medina Garrigues of Spain braved a rain delay to capture her 10th WTA title by beating Kristina Barrois of Germany 6-1, 6-2 in the women’s final.
The 61st-ranked Medina Garrigues was leading 3-2 in the second set when rain interrupted the match, but the break did little to rattle Medina Garrigues, who dropped just seven points on first serve and broke her opponent six times to capture her ninth clay-court title, a feat that matches Venus Williams’ record among active players.
World No. 2 Novak Djokovic took his season’s winning streak to 26-0 on Saturday, reaching the Belgrade clay-court final when Serbian Davis Cup colleague Janko Tipsarevic handed him a semi-final walkover.
Tipsarevic was suffering from a right-leg injury and opted against playing the last-four clash with the French Open just three weeks away.
Writing on his Facebook page, Djokovic said: “Janko had to pull out from tonight’s semi-final match because of a muscle injury. I sincerely hope he will manage to recover for the rest of the clay-court season. I will try to get the title back where it belongs and that is Serbia.”
Djokovic won the title in the tournament’s inaugural 2009 edition with victory over Lukasz Kubot of Poland.
The 23-year-old Djokovic, chasing his fifth title of the year, will face Feliciano Lopez in the final after the Spaniard enjoyed a 7-6 (7/3), 6-2 victory over Italy’s Filippo Volandri.
Djokovic takes a 3-0 career lead into the clash with 37th-ranked Lopez, although the left-hander did win a set off Djokovic in their most recent meeting in Dubai in February.
“I think it’s a great match for me to play,” Lopez said. “I’ve already won four matches this week. My confidence is really high at the moment and I feel great to play against Novak. I know it’s going to be tough — he’s been the best player this year. It will be a great experience.”