Santiago Giraldo of Colombia beat Nicolas Almagro 7-5, 6-3 to reach the Barcelona Open final on Saturday, as his Spanish rival suffered a letdown after ousting top-ranked Rafael Nadal.
Giraldo will face fourth-seeded Kei Nishikori of Japan after he beat Ernests Gulbis of Latvia 6-2, 6-4 in the other semifinal on the red outdoor clay.
Almagro slumped to his first loss in six meetings with Giraldo, a day after one of his biggest wins when he upset eight-time winner Nadal at the Real Club de Tenis.
The unseeded Giraldo will be playing for his first career title on Sunday after he saved six of seven break points and finished the match with an emphatic ace.
Giraldo prevailed in a match that featured several long rallies by proving more precise with his long groundstrokes. The first set was heading for a tiebreaker until Giraldo snatched it away by breaking Almagro’s last service game when he swatted a forehand return by the feet of the last year’s finalist. Almagro got an early break in the second set, but Giraldo won it right back and took control as Almagro’s nerves frayed with the match slipping away.
Earlier, Nishikori’s faster movement overcame Gulbis’ big serve.
Down a set, ninth-seeded Gulbis saved seven break points in the second before finally ceding his serve and losing the match.
Nishikori will be seeking his second title of the season and fifth in his career.
Sharapova, Ivanovic face off
Stuttgart: Two-time defending champion Maria Sharapova cruised past Sara Errani 6-1, 6-2 on Saturday to reach her third straight Porsche Grand Prix final. Sharapova dominated the 59-minute semifinal and will play Ana Ivanovic in the final. Sharapova extended her winning streak on Stuttgart’s indoor clay to 12 matches and is undefeated against Errani in five matches.
Ivanovic, looking for her third title of the year, beat Jelena Jankovic 6-3, 7-5 in an all-Serb match.
Ivanovic earned her third match point when Jankovic slipped and fell. A return by Jankovic that went wide gave Ivanovic another match point which she clinched when her opponent sent another return into the net.
Ivanovic, a former No. 1 like Jankovic and Sharapova, now has a 9-3 career edge over Jankovic.
Sania-Cara reach final
Sania Mirza earned herself an opportunity to win her first title of the season after reaching the summit clash of the PORSCHE Tennis Grand Prix with Zimbabwean partner Cara Black. The second-seeded Indo-Zimbabwean pair defeated the German pair of Antonia Lottner and Anna Zaja 6-2, 2-6, 10-4 in one hour and 14 minutes.
In the final they will face winner between top seeds Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci, and Jelena Jankovic and Alisa Kleybanova.