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By Chris Oddo Photo Credit: AP Photo

Brian Baker - 2012 NIce(May 24, 2012)—Brian Baker's
unlikely run at the Open de Nice Cote D'azur continued today in fine form, as the American saved a match point en route to a thrilling three-set victory over Mikhail Kukushkin, 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(4). For Baker, who had not won an ATP-level match since 2005 heading into this week, the win marks the American's first trip to a tour-level semifinal.
 
Baker, who trailed 2-4 in the third set and saved a match point while serving at 5-6, will next face Russian former world No. 3 Nikolay Davydenko in the semifinals.
 
Davydenko fought his way past hard-serving American John Isner in straight sets, 6-4, 7-6(4). The win marks Davydenko's second trip to a semifinal this year, and ends a personal two-match losing streak for the Russian against Isner.
 
Isner, the subject of so much "big men can win on clay" talk after his groundbreaking upsets of Roger Federer, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Gilles Simon on red clay in Davis Cup play earlier this season, has cooled quite a bit on the surface of late. He lost early in Madrid and Rome, and failed to get by Davydenko in spite of serving 13 aces and saving six of seven break points.
 
In the other half of the draw, Nicolas Almagro earned his 22nd clay court victory of the season against Steve Darcis of Belgium, 6-4, 6-4, and No. 2-seeded Gilles Simon took care of Thomaz Bellucci 7-5, 6-0 in 92 minutes.
 
Simon, who won the Bucharest title last month on clay, did not face a break point in the encounter. The Frenchman holds a 2-1 career edge over Almagro, having won the last two, including a victory over the Spaniard on clay in Hamburg last year.

 

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