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Mayer To Challenge Fognini In Vina Del Mar Final

Viña del Mar, Chile

Fognini© Jim RydellFabio Fognini will compete for a third ATP World Tour crown after outlasting Nicolas Almagro in Vina del Mar.

Fabio Fognini survived a thrilling semi-final battle with Nicolas Almagro at the Royal Guard Open Chile on Saturday, advancing to a fourth consecutive final on clay on the ATP World Tour.

Momentum vacillated considerably between the two competitors during their two-hour duel, won by Fognini 6-4, 1-6, 7-6(5).

It will be the 26 year old’s fourth clay final in a row, having hoisted the trophies in Stuttgart and Hamburg last July, before finishing runner-up in Umag.

The Italian dominated the early proceedings in Vina del Mar, racing to an early double break lead before securing the first set 6-4. Almagro would break immediately to open the second, reeling off six of the next seven games and forcing a decider. An early break in what would be a turbulent third set went to Fognini and he appeared to have the match in hand when serving for it at 5-3. The Spaniard dug deep, however, saving a match point and breaking back.

Fognini would not be denied in the ensuing tie-break, converting on his second match point when an Almagro backhand found the net. He will compete for a third ATP World Tour crown in his sixth final on Sunday.

The No. 3 seed Almagro was seeking to complete his Latin American Golden Swing trophy collection, having already won six combined titles in Argentina, Brazil and Mexico.

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Leonardo Mayer will look to play spoiler when he faces Fognini in the final.

Mayer continued his career-best week on the ATP World Tour, reaching his first final following a 7-6(2), 6-3 victory over Santiago Giraldo

At No. 91 in the Emirates ATP Rankings, the 26 year old is enjoying his most successful week on tour after upsetting second-seed Tommy Robredo in the second round for just his third victory over a Top 20 opponent in 27 matches.

Against Giraldo, Mayer was efficient on serve, firing six aces and protecting his second serve well, winning 75 per cent (18/24) of such points. He converted on all three break points garnered to claim the straight-set victory in just over 90 minutes.

The Argentine was 0-2 in ATP World Tour semi-finals entering Saturday's semi. He dropped a pair of close encounters, falling to Carsten Ball in Los Angeles in 2009 and to Fernando Verdasco on the clay of Nice in 2010.

For Giraldo, the loss prevents the 2011 Vina del Mar runner-up from reaching his second tour-level final. The Colombian notched his 100th ATP World Tour match victory on Friday with a quarter-final win over Guillermo Garcia-Lopez.

Fognini won the lone FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting with Mayer 6-1, 6-3, en route to the Stuttgart title in 2013.

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© Erika Tanaka


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