The top four seeds in this capital's Copa Claro clay-court event, including two-time defending champion David Ferrer of Spain, have booked their places in the semifinals.
After tough battles in his first two matches, Ferrer steamrolled countryman Albert Ramos on Friday 6-1, 6-2 at the Buenos Aires Lawn Tennis Club thanks in large part to his relentless return game.
Ferrer took advantage of Ramos' inability to win easy points with his serve, creating seven break points throughout the match and converting five of them.
The 31-year-old Spaniard, who will return to the No. 4 spot in the ATP rankings on Monday, will take on fourth-seeded countryman Nicolas Almagro - a 7-6 (9-7), 6-3 winner Friday over Frenchman Jeremy Chardy - in the semifinals.
Ferrer, who received a last-minute invitation after countryman and world No. 1 Rafael Nadal withdrew due to lack of preparation, holds a 14-0 career edge in his head-to-head matches against Almagro.
Another Spaniard, 31-year-old Tommy Robredo, also advanced to the tournament's final four Friday when Dutchman Robin Haase retired with a back injury while trailing 6-1, 2-0.
The final semifinal berth was claimed by red-hot Italian Fabio Fognini, who cruised past Spaniard Pablo Andujar 6-4, 6-3. Fognini won last week's clay-court event in Viña del Mar, Chile, and currently is riding a 10-match winning streak.
Spanish players have won the Buenos Aires event, part of February's South American clay-court swing, for the past five years, with Ferrer, Robredo and Almagro accounting for four of those titles. EFE