Tennis

Ferrer to play Almagro in semis at Valencia

VALENCIA, Spain (AP) — Defending champion David Ferrer will play former winner Nicolas Almagro in the semifinals of the Valencia Open after both Spaniards won on Friday.

The top-seeded Ferrer beat Jerzy Janowicz of Poland 6-4, 4-6, 6-0, while the third-seeded Almagro bounced back from a poor start to down Fabio Fognini 7-6 (6), 6-2. Ferrer used his speed and ground game to overcome Janowicz's powerful serve with key breaks to finish the first set and then start the third.

Ferrer and Almagro have won a combined five titles at this tournament. Besides last year, Ferrer won the event in 2010 and beat Almagro in the 2008 final, ending the latter's two-year title run. Also, Mikhail Youzhny outlasted Finland's Jarkko Nieminen 7-5, 6-7 (4), 6-4 in 2 hours, 21 minutes to set up an all-Russian semifinal with Dmitry Tursunov.

Tursunov ousted Jeremy Chardy of France 6-3, 6-3. Janowicz hit 10 aces with speeds reaching 238 kph (148 mph) on the indoor hard court, but his serve also betrayed him. Two of his four double-faults helped cost him two service games, and on match point he twice served into the net.

Ferrer, ranked No. 3, kept scrambling to keep the ball in play until he wore Janowicz down, with one long rally even sending Janowicz crashing into a flower stand. Ferrer also defeated Janowicz in their only previous meeting in the final of the Paris Masters last year when he claimed his first Masters title.

"I knew that today was going to be a different match," Ferrer said. "It was a tough one. He served very well and it was difficult to counter that. It was too bad to drop the second set, but I quickly forgot about it."

Fognini had a bright start up 3-0 and a chance to serve out the first set before Almagro saved a set point in the tiebreaker en route to finally going up 1-0. Almagro converted four of five break points to put away the Italian.

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