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Davydenko Survives Isner's Aces; Baker Saves M.P.

Nice, France

Almagro© Yohan Brandt/Open de Nice Côte d’AzurNicolas Almagro remained on course to repeat as champion in Nice.

Former World No. 3 Nikolay Davydenko broke a two-match losing streak against top-seeded American John Isner with a 6-4, 7-6(4) win in one hour and 42 minutes Thursday at the Open de Nice Côte d'Azur. Davydenko will square off against American comeback kid Brian Baker for a place in the final, after the qualifier wiped away a match point to edge Mikhail Kukushkin 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(4).

Davydenko overcame 13 aces off of Isner's racquet to defeat the World No. 11 in their fifth meeting. The Russian is through to his second ATP World Tour semi-final of the season, having fallen to Roger Federer at the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam, and is looking to lift his 22nd ATP World Tour title.

The 216th-ranked Baker continued his run at his first ATP World Tour clay-court event, despite trailing 2-4 in the third set. He saved a match point serving at 5-6 before completing the comeback victory against Kukushkin in two hours and 16 minutes.

"Right now, I'm thinking about how I'm going to recover and play tomorrow," said Baker. "It hasn't quite sunk in yet, but when I get back to the hotel room, I'm sure there will be a lot of people calling me. I knew I was in the quarters and had a good win last night. I felt like if I kept on playing my game, I'd have a chance to win."

Baker has not lost since falling to Sam Querrey in the second round of the Sarasota Challenger. He came through the qualifying rounds to capture the Savannah Challenger title, clinching the USTA’s Roland Garros wild card berth. He has won 14 straight matches and will be match fit as he prepares to make his debut in Paris.

Second seed and Nice native Gilles Simon remains on course to lift his 11th ATP World Tour title after he beat Brazilian qualifier Thomaz Bellucci 7-5, 6-0 in 92 minutes. Simon, who won the BRD Nastase Tiriac Trophy in Bucharest (d. Fognini) last month, did not face a single break point and won 77 per cent of his service points. The World No. 12 improved to 27-12 on the season (16-7 on clay).

Third seed Nicolas Almagro will next face Simon after the Spaniard knocked out Steve Darcis of Belgium 6-4, 6-4 in 84 minutes. Almagro, who is now 22-6 on clay this year, highlighted by a title run at the Brasil Open, hit 13 aces and lost 12 of his service points to advance to his fourth ATP World Tour semi-final (or better) in 2012.

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