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Giraldo Fights Past Starace To Reach First Final

Santiago, Chile

Santiago Giraldo© Movistar Open/Jim RydellSantiago Giraldo will contest his first ATP World Tour final.

Eighth seed Santiago Giraldo’s fine run of form carried him to his first ATP World Tour final on Saturday as he came from a set down to defeat fifth seed Potito Starace 4-6, 7-6(2), 6-1 in the semi-finals of the Movistar Open in Santiago.

The Colombian has opened the 2011 ATP World Tour season with a 10-3 match record, having reached the semi-finals in Auckland (l. to Ferrer) and the quarter-finals in Brisbane (l. to Anderson), before falling to Marin Cilic in the second round of the Australian Open.

The 23-year-old Giraldo was broken once as he lost the first set to the No. 49-ranked Starace, but held strong in the second set, saving the one break point he faced before levelling the match in a tie-break. He then dominated the final set, breaking serve three times from seven opportunities to clinch victory in just over two hours.

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Giraldo said: “It was a very tough match. His serve is very difficult to return, and it doesn’t help with these dry conditions. It took me some time to get used to it and I started to read his serve better in the second set tie-break.

“I am so happy to have reached this first final. As I said before, I worked very hard during the off season and it’s paying off. I really look forward to tomorrow. I will give everything I have.”

In the final Giraldo will face sixth seed Tommy Robredo, who took out seventh seed Fabio Fognini 4-6, 6-2, 6-3. Both players battled to hold their serves during the match, facing a combined 29 break point chances. After dropping serve twice in the first set, Robredo was broken once in both the second and third sets but broke the Fognini serve five times in the final two sets to advance to the final.

Robredo said: “I didn’t start well today but I am happy I was able to turn the situation around. To win a semi-final and be in the final means a lot and I hope tomorrow I can win a fifth match here and lift the trophy. Giraldo is a very complete player, that hits hard from both sides and who plays very well in altitude. We will see how it goes.”

Robredo had not reached a final since the Golden Swing two years ago. In 2009 Robredo won consecutive titles in Costa do Sauipe and Buenos Aires. Although he finished 2010 in the Top 50 for the 10th consecutive season, Robredo failed to win a title in a season for the first time since 2005, and his total of 20 match wins was his fewest since 2000.

Including his fourth-round showing at the Australian Open, World No. 40 Robredo has now won seven of his past eight matches.

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