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Simon Closing On Third Bucharest Title; Faces First-Time Finalist Fognini

Bucharest, Romania

Simon© Raed KrishanTop seed Gilles Simon is chasing his third Bucharest title.

Top seed Gilles Simon reached his third successive final at the BRD Nastase Tiriac Trophy on Saturday in Bucharest as he defeated Germany’s Matthias Bachinger 7-5, 6-2. The Frenchman converted five of the 17 break points he created to claim victory in one hour and 47 minutes.

"It was a difficult match again," said Simon. "His serve was amazing today and he saved many break points with aces or winners. I was playing and moving better than yesterday, but Matthias gave me a hard time on the court.

"I feel good. I know that I can play very good here," added Simon. "I know the centre court perfectly and I really think I can win this tournament one more time."

The No. 12-ranked Simon won the title at this ATP World Tour 250 clay-court tennis tournament on his past two visits in 2007 (d. Hanescu) and 2008 (d. Moya) and improved to a 14-1 event record. The right-hander is through to his 12th ATP World Tour final and first of the season. He is bidding to win his 10th title, the first since triumphing on clay in Hamburg last July.

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Simon has enjoyed good form at the start of the European clay-court swing, reaching the semi-finals at last week’s Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters (l. to Nadal). He was also a semi-finalist in Brisbane (l. to Dolgopolov) and Montpellier (l. to Monfils) earlier in the year and has a 20-10 match record.

World No. 120 Bachinger was contesting his first ATP World Tour semi-final after ousting fourth seed Viktor Troicki earlier in the week. The 25-year-old German dropped to a 6-9 match record on the season.

In the final Simon will face Italy’s Fabio Fognini, who ended the impressive campaign of Hungarian qualifier Attila Balazs with a 6-3, 6-1 win. The No. 57-ranked Fognini saved all three break points he faced and capitalised on four of his six opportunities to wrap up victory over the No. 450-ranked Balazs in 68 minutes.

Simon takes a 3-0 lead over Fognini into the final, having beaten the Italian in all three of their clay-court meetings in 2009.

The 24-year-old Fognini is through to his first ATP World Tour final after overcoming the foot injury that sidelined him in February and March. The right-hander had not won back-to-back matches in his five tour-level tournaments leading into Bucharest.

"Right now I'm really happy because it's my first final," said Fognini. "I've lost maybe six or seven semi-finals in a row but today I was really solid. I couldn't imagine making the final on my first time here. But when I was injured I was working hard every day and now a little dream has come true. The tournament is not finished yet; tomorrow I will give it 110 per cent against a really good player and we will see what happens."

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©Lionel Maltese


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