Ferrer v. Nalbandian in Auckland final.

A clinical David Ferrer overcame Colombian Santiago Giraldo 6-3 7-5 to set up a final showdown against Argentinian David Nalbandian at the Heineken Open in Auckland. The nimble-footed Spaniard came to the net with ease and drove forehands regularly past the world number 64, who was playing in his first ATP Tour semi-final. It told as Ferrer stepped up his game in the eighth game to break the Colombian’s serve. But, to his credit, Giraldo did not give in and made Ferrer fight for his serve. He lost the set, but his head was held high. The second set got off to the worst possible start for the rookie, when he was broken by Ferrer, before the top seed held his own serve to claim a 2-0 lead. But the unseeded South American’s fan club lifted him, and he broke Ferrer’s serve in the sixth game. All of a sudden, the momentum was with Giraldo as he took a 4-3 lead. The Colombian support crew were ecstatic, and the crowd hopped on board to lift Giraldo, but instead gave Ferrer the motivation – summed up by the Spaniard breaking serve to take a 6-5 lead and serve for the match.

Nalbandian, meanwhile, progressed to the final by defeating second seed Nicolas Almagro 6-4 6-2. The world number 27, who is scheduled to play Lleyton Hewitt in the first round of the Australian Open, looked patchy early on as he returned many of Almagro’s serves into the net. On his own serve, however, the Argentinian looked the part. Some long rallies ensued before the sixth seed had his first break-point opportunity in the ninth game. He duly converted to have the advantage heading in to the second set. Almagro’s first appearance in the semi-finals of the Auckland tournament looked to be over as early as the first game of the second set, where he was broken by Nalbandian after a long deuce game. He was broken again in the seventh game to hand the Argentinian a 5-2 lead and a fired-up Nalbandian served for the match and booked his ticket to the final – without having dropped a set.


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