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By Chris Oddo
 
Brian Baker - 2012 Nice(May 24, 2012) 27-year-old American Brian Baker has continued his remarkable form today in Nice by defeating former world No. 3 Nikolay Davydenko in three sets to reach the first ATP final of his career.
 
In a whirlwind month that has seen Baker go from college coach dabbling in futures tournaments to heartwarming comeback kid with a French Open wildcard to bona fide title threat, Baker has managed to keep his composure throughout, notching comeback wins in each of the last two rounds at Nice after earning his slot in the draw as a qualifier.
 
Beginning way back in April when even hardcore tennis fans hadn’t heard of him, Baker has now won 15 matches in a row (including challengers and qualifiers), and he stands to become the first ATP player to win his maiden title in 2012 if he can get by Nicolas Almagro in the final.
 
After dropping a first set tiebreaker to Davydenko, Baker dialed in his return game, managing to break the Russian three times in each of the final two sets to seal the 6-7(5), 6-4, 6-2 victory in just over two and a half hours.
 
Baker fought off a match point in yesterday’s quarterfinal win against Mikhail Kukushkin, but he didn’t need that type of magic down the stretch today as he won 15 out of 25 points against Davydenko’s serve in the third set, including converting on three of four break points.
 
Baker will bid to become the first American title winner on the ATP tour in tomorrow’s final.
 
His opponent in the final should provide him with his sternest challenge of the week.
 
In the other semifinal, Nicolas Almagro made very short work of Gilles Simon, 6-1, 6-3 in just over an hour. Almagro upped his record to 33-11 on the year with the win, and the Spaniard will contest his third clay-court final of the season.
 
Almagro saved all four break points he faced against Simon, and he hammered eight aces for good measure. He broke Simon three times in a one-sided first set and needed only one more break in the final stanza to seal the straight-sets victory.
 
Almagro has a career record of 11-5 in ATP finals.

 

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