The defending Millennium Estoril Open champion is two wins from retaining his crown.

Sixth seed Albert Ramos-Vinolas won a battle of Spaniards on Friday when he defeated fellow lefty Fernando Verdasco 6-2, 6-2 to reach the last four at the clay-court ATP 250. Ramos-Vinolas now leads the pair’s ATP Head2Head series 6-5 and has won eight consecutive sets in their rivalry.

“I think it’s always difficult to play against a player that you know a lot. We’ve played a lot of times and it was a difficult match,” Ramos-Vinolas said in his on-court interview. “I think I played very serious from the beginning until the end and I’m really happy because I beat a really good opponent.”

The 34-year-old has won eight straight matches in Estoril, with two of those victories coming against Verdasco. Ramos-Vinolas needed three sets to triumph in his first two matches this week, but the result was never in doubt against his countryman.

One year after defeating Verdaco 6-3, 6-3 at the Portuguese event, the four-time ATP Tour titlist saved the only break point he faced and won 53 per cent of his first-serve return points to control the match. Ramos-Vinolas will next play former World No. 7 Richard Gasquet or 2021 Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals competitor Sebastian Baez.

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