Tennis: Verdasco powers into Houston semi-finals, will meet Giraldo next

HOUSTON (AFP) - Fernando Verdasco booked his first ATP semi-final of 2014 on Friday, powering home to beat Donald Young 7-6 (7-1), 6-1 in the US Men's Clay Court Championship.

The fourth-seeded Spanish veteran admitted Young's solid play had him feeling "uncomfortable" in the opening set, but once he'd pocketed the tie-breaker he was on his way.

"He played great tennis in the first set," Verdasco said. "I kept fighting and he didn't serve well in the game I broke him. After that he started missing a little more, including in the tie-break. After I won the tie-break I took extra confidence and started to be more stable on the court."

Verdasco next faces Santiago Giraldo, who defeated Alejandro Gonzalez 6-3, 6-4 in an all-Colombian clash.

The 26-year-old Giraldo will be playing the fifth ATP semi-final of his career and his second this year. He fell to Leonardo Mayer in the semis at Vina del Mar earlier this year.

Third-seeded Spaniard Nicolas Almagro also advanced, downing American Jack Sock 6-2, 6-4.

Almagro will face American Sam Querrey, who fired 15 aces and saved all four break-points he faced in a 6-3, 6-7 (8-10), 6-3, victory over Germany's Dustin Brown.

Querrey, a former world No.17, is in the final four in Houston for the second time. He finished runner-up in 2010.

"You have to be ready for anything," he said of Brown's varied game. "He might come in, he might stay back, he might serve and volley, slice a forehand, drop shot. You have to expect everything and not get frustrated when he wins points."

Almagro will be trying to improve on his runner-up finish in Houston last year, when he lost to American John Isner in the final.

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