Nicolas Almagro, the world No 18, will meet Richard Gasquet in the final of the Alliance Suez Open today after the pair came through their respective semi-finals. Almagro defeated fellow Spaniard Daniel Gimeno-Traver 7-6, 3-6, 6-3 on Gstaad's outdoor clay court to reach his second ATP World Tour final in three weeks. Gasquet, the No 7 seed, ended Kazakh qualifier Yuri Schukin's run with a 6-3 6-4 win in the second semi-final.
"We are friends and used to practice together when we were about 14 years old," Almagro said of his countryman Gimeno-Traver. "I was a bit more lucky this time." Almagro will be contesting his ninth tour final, all of which have been on clay. He won his sixth title only two weeks ago in Bastad. Gasquet won at Gstaad in 2006. The third-seeded Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova advanced to the final of the Istanbul Cup with a 7-6, 2-6, 7-5 win over Australian Jarmila Groth. She will play another Russian, Elena Vesnina, who upset the sixth-seeded Andrea Petkovic of Germany, 1-6, 6-0, 7-6.
Meanwhile, after losing to Victoria Azarenka in the quarter-finals of the Stanford Classic on Friday, holder Marion Bartoli told reporters her opponent's loud grunts distracted her. "It's difficult to play against those kinds of players," Bartoli said. "It's fine to grunt sometimes when you make an effort, but sometimes it's just so loud." Azarenka said that she has been grunting since she began to play tennis. "A lot of things can distract people," Azarenka said. "That's the way I play and I cannot change it."