Australia’s Nick Kyrgios powered into his first ATP semi-final on Friday, beating Dutchman Robin Haase 6-3, 6-4 at the Estoril Open.
The seventh-seeded Kyrgios, ranked 46th and playing only his second event after returning from six weeks on the sidelines to rest an ankle injury, is to play Pablo Carreno Busta for a spot in today’s title match.
The clay-courting Spaniard put out Luxembourg’s eighth seed Gilles Muller 6-2, 6-4 in his quarter-final.
Kyrgios, who turned 20 at the start of the week, has played quarter-finals at Wimbledon and at the Australian Open, but has never been able to connect on his big game at smaller ATP World Tour events.
“I felt very confident, I moved well and served well, I’m very happy with my game right now,” he said. “I was solid and feel like I’m improving with each match.”
However, Kyrgios warned: “I’m certainly not the favorite against Pablo Carreno Busta. He was born and grew up playing on clay and loves these conditions. It will be very tough for me.”
Fellow young gun, Croatia’s Borna Coric, 18, fell to a comeback from experienced Spanish campaigner Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, the 31-year-old winner of last weekend’s Bucharest title.
Coric lost 6-3, 7-6 (7/4) after Garcia-Lopez battled back from 5-1 down in the second set after winning the first. The Spaniard has now won his last eight matches on clay.
French fifth seed Richard Gasquet is likely hoping to extend his back injury comeback when he takes on Spain’s Nicolas Almagro, whose ranking of 174 reflects his own injury problems last year.
Kyrgios beat Haase, 28 and ranked 101, in just 56 minutes, firing seven aces and breaking three times.
The Australian, who nearly got defaulted in his opening match for the offense of firing a ball in anger out of the small club stadium, kept his nerves in check in his latest victory.
Kyrgios quickly bounced back from an early break to level at 2-2 in the first set, then broke for 4-2 and closed out the set in less than half an hour.
In the second, he broke midway through and eventually finished up the winner on his first match point.
Kyrgios was competing in only his third career Tour level quarter-final.
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