Milos Raonic put on an impressive serving display with a straight-sets semi-final win over Ryan Harrison at the SAP Open, avenging a loss to the American in their only previous contest.
The 21-year-old Canadian moved another step closer to defending his San Jose title by spinning off 20 aces to win 7-6 (7/4), 6-2. He advanced to the final where he will face unseeded Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan, who outlasted France’s Julien Benneteau 6-3, 6-7 (4/7), 6-3 in a night match.
World No. 94 Harrison won the only previous contest between the two young guns, beating Raonic 7-6 (7/1), 4-6, 6-4 in the round-of-32 at last year’s Indian Wells tournament in southern California.
The loss to Harrison helped end Raonic’s magic run last year, which included becoming the first Canadian since 1995 to capture an ATP title when he won in San Jose and following up the next week by reaching the final of the Regions Morgan Keegan Championship in Memphis, Tennessee.
World No. 32 Raonic is seeking his third ATP title after opening this season with a win at the Chennai Open in New Delhi.
In the other semi-final, Istomin hit just seven aces, but he won 74 percent of his first-serve points and 58 percent of his second-serve points in the 2 hour, 20 minute match against the fifth seeded Frenchman.
Frenchman Benneteau ripped 10 aces, but he also made five double faults against world No. 61 Istomin, who is chasing his first ATP Tour title.
Top seed Roger Federer battled past Russian Nikolay Davydenko in an entertaining 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 triumph on Saturday to reach the Rotterdam Open final.
The Swiss former world No. 1 faces third seed Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina, who brushed aside second-seeded Czech Tomas Berdych 6-3, 6-1 in the first semi-final.
Federer, who has admitted struggling with the surface and his rhythm, recovered after losing the first set, having been broken in the ninth game and early in the second set.
Davydenko dominated from the baseline using his powerful forehand, but he dropped his serve in the sixth game of the second set, with Federer taking four straight games to force a decider.
Davydenko wasted four break points in the third set, while Federer, whose serve was never convincing, failed to take six chances, before finally breaking to love to settle the match.
AP, SAO PAULO, BRAZIL
Top seed and defending champion Nicolas Almagro of Spain defeated fellow countryman Albert Ramos 6-4, 7-6 (7/4) to make it to the Brazil Open final on Saturday.
He is scheduled to play Italian Filippo Volandri, who eliminated home-crowd favorite Thomaz Bellucci 5-7, 6-0, 6-2.
Almagro, the winner at the Brazil Open in 2008 and last year, broke the eighth-seeded Ramos once in each set.