French second seed Richard Gasquet defeated Daniel Munoz-de la Nava 7-6 (7/1), 6-2 on Friday to reach the semi-finals of the Estoril Open, as he plays his first clay event of the season.
Gasquet, who lost the 2007 final to Novak Djokovic on his last visit to Estoril, beat the lowest-ranked player remaining in the field in No. 148 de la Nava.
He now faces another Spaniard, Albert Ramos, the fourth seed who saw off local favorite Joao Sousa 6-2, 6-3.
“He had nothing to lose,” said Gasquet, who was proud of finding his own fighting qualities so early in the current clay campaign. “We played a tough first set, it lasted more than an hour.
“It was a good win for me, but it was not an easy one. I concentrated well in the second set after playing a very good tie-break.
“I had to fight a lot but that is what you have to do on clay and this was good experience. I hope to keep it up in the semi-finals.”
Top-seeded holder Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina will face Switzerland’s Stanislas Wawrinka in the second semi-final.
Del Potro accounted for 2009-2010 winner Albert Montanes, the Spanish seventh seed, 6-2, 6-2.
Third seed Wawrinka beat Dutchman Robin Haase 6-1, 6-4 as windy and rainy conditions from earlier in the week in this valley with its own micro-climate calmed considerably for the business end of the event.
Del Potro is competing on clay in an ATP event for the first time this season, though he did win a pair of Davis Cup rubbers last month in Argentina’s victory over Croatia in Buenos Aires.
“This tournament is very important for me,” the 2009 US Open champion said. “It is the start of my clay season and I want to do as well as possible here. I need to keep the form that I have and improve the rest of my game. There are a lot of important tournaments coming up before the French Open.”
Wawrinka is level 2-all with del Potro, with the South American winning their last two matches played three years ago.
In the Saturday women’s final, Kaia Kanepi of Estonia, the sixth seed, will take on Spaniard Carla Suarez Navarro.
Both of the winners knocked out Italian competition, with Kanepi upsetting top seed Roberta Vinci 6-2, 7-5 and Suarez Navarro ousting Karin Knapp 6-4, 6-0.
German veteran Tommy Haas beat eighth-seeded Marcos Baghdatis 6-1, 7-6 (7/3) to reach the last four of the BMW Open on Friday, his first ATP semi-final since August 2009.
Haas, the 2000 finalist who received a wild card into the clay-court tournament, served his sixth ace to end the match. The 34-year-old German was once ranked as high as No. 2, but has dropped to No. 134.
He will next face third-seeded Marin Cilic of Croatia, who beat 2010 champion Mikhail Youzhny of Russia 6-3, 6-7 (8/6), 6-3.
Second-seeded Fernando Lopez of Spain served 14 aces to cruise past fifth-seeded Bernard Tomic of Australia 6-4, 6-2 and set up a semi-final against Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany.
The fourth-seeded German defeated another Australian, qualifier Marinko Matosevic, 6-0, 7-6 (7/5).
Both Australians were in their first career quarter-finals on clay, Matosevic in his first tournament on the surface.
Top-seeded Pablo Andujar of Spain, Andreas Seppi of Italy and David Nalbandian of Argentina reached the semi-finals of the Serbia Open tournament on Friday.
France’s Benoit Paire also advanced to the last four after beating third-seeded Jarkko Nieminen from Finland 0-6, 6-2, 7-5.