In-form Australian Nick Kyrgios moved closer to a second consecutive final at the Estoril Open after dominating Borna Coric 6-4, 6-4 in the quarter-finals on Friday.
World number 20 Kyrgios, a losing finalist a year ago to Richard Gasquet, will Saturday face Spaniard Nicolas Almagro, who beat Argentine seventh seed Leonardo Mayer 6-4, 7-6 (7/5).
Kyrgios, who turned 21 this week, and 19-year-old Croatian Coric are two of the most promising stars on the ATP but had never previously played each other.
The Australian broke early in both sets to establish himself and keep the momentum firmly on his side of the clay court.
He sent over an ace for two match points, with both saved by Coric, before Kyrgios finished the win on his third chance in 69 minutes.
Coric was stopped at the Estoril quarter-final stage for a second straight edition.
Kyrgios fired 10 aces to seven for his opponent and never faced a break point.
At the top of the draw, Pablo Carreno Busta prevented an all-French semi-final as he put out top seed Gilles Simon 6-3, 6-4.
The upset sent eighth seed Carreno Busta into a match-up with French third seed Benoit Paire, a winner over Spain’s Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, 7-6 (7/2), 6-2.
Carreno Busta is one victory away from a second career ATP final after losing in Sao Paulo to Pablo Cuevas in February.
Simon’s return to the seaside venue outside of Lisbon for the first time since 2011 ended in disappointment, as the world number 18 was ambushed by his 50th-ranked opponent, managing only two aces and losing serve twice.
“It as the first time I’ve played him and he had a really good match,” Simon said.
“He was very consistent. The match was close but always on his side. He played the right shot at the right moment, he was the better player today.
Paire, whose patchy game can come and go, found it tough to adjust to the faster conditions in the heat of the day after playing night matches previously, but was pleased to get past Garcia-Lopez without too much trouble.
“It was a little tough in the beginning, not great for the confidence,” said Paire whose physical niggles include losing a tooth this week.
“But I began feeling better and better as the match went on. He was a tough opponent, I’m glad I won in straight sets. When I was down I told myself just to keep going, I’m happy to win today.”